A new technique developed by Australian researchers is using sound waves to filter sperm for IVF treatments.
The researchers combine acoustic waves with fluid dynamics in order to identify high-quality sperm from semen samples.
It’s a departure from the usual methods of selecting quality sperm because it looks at size, shape, and DNA integrity, rather than just motility.
‘Sperm preparation or selection is a key step in assisted reproduction, being performed right before fertilising the egg,’ said Dr Reza Nosrati, joint report author at Monash University.
‘Our process aims to select better sperm within a faster time frame, so hopefully this can lead to improved outcomes in assisted reproduction.’
The results of the study was published in the journal Lab on a Chip.
During the study, raw bull semen was placed on a chip and allowed to flow through a channel, while acoustic waves were applied at different frequencies.
Lower quality sperm, which showed DNA damage, were found to be affected differently by the acoustic waves.
The waves directed the most favourable sperm cells to a collection chamber, while the rest was discarded.
The device created for the study was able to process up to 140 sperm cells per second, and isolated 60,000 high-quality sperm in 50 minutes.
This is roughly four times faster than existing methods of sperm selection.
The research team also found a 38 per cent improvement in DNA integrity and a 60 per cent increase in motility in the filtered sample.
‘We hope that with further testing, our “acoustofluidic” sperm selection process can provide new opportunities and be of benefit to the assisted reproduction industry, and help remove the fear, anxiety and negative stereotypes associated with infertility,’ said Dr Nosrati.