Machine to sort damaged sperm developed
Dr. Kirsty Horsey
Progress Educational Trust
11 January 2005
Scientists in Australia have developed a sperm-sorting machine that can separate damaged sperm from healthy sperm during IVF treatment, increasing the chance of infertile or sub-fertile men being able to have their own genetic children. The machine - called Gradiflow - will be tested in clinical trials later this year.
The new machine, developed by Professors John Aitken and Chris Ainsworth at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, can separate out sperm with DNA damage. Fertility clinics can already separate out the 'densest' sperm from semen samples, but have no way of separating out the 'healthiest' sperm. The new machine works on the basis that negatively charged membranes have the least damaged DNA. Semen is injected into a chamber and a voltage is applied to it to make sperm move to a second chamber. According to the New Scientist magazine, 'in preliminary tests, using semen from medical students, the 20 per cent of sperm that made it into the second chamber had only half as much DNA damage as the sperm left behind'.
The scientists believe that the sperm-sorting machine will be useful, in particular, when treating older men, or men who have been heavy smokers or exposed to toxins in the workplace. These are all factors which cause the type of DNA damage that the machine can sort sperm on the basis of, they say.
Dr Moira O'Bryan, of the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development in Melbourne, said the machine is 'so simple'. 'I've never seen anything like it before', she said, adding 'You turn it on, the sperm moves across and there you go'. Professor Ian Craft, director of the London Fertility Centre said the 'device sounds like a nice idea', commenting that there is evidence that suggests DNA damage in sperm is linked to both a lower conception rate in IVF and a higher risk of miscarriage.
© Copyright Progress Educational Trust
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.
Customer Reviews (1)
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22 January 2005
the sperm machine looks like a helpfull machine.
what is the time scedule to get it for commercial use, and thru what company?