New Injection Could Make Sperm Swim Faster

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A liquid that’s made from the blood of a male and injected into a sample of their sperm could treat infertility. Researchers from Spain are testing a theory that spinning blood to extract platelet-rich plasma or PRP, a concentrated mixture of substances in the blood which helps cells grow, could help sperm swim faster and increase the chances of pregnancy in couples seeking reproductive assistance.

The Study

Up to one-third of couples dealing with infertility may benefit from this new technology, according to researchers who are being led by top fertility specialist Dr. Marco Ferrando.

About one in seven couples will have trouble conceiving a baby, according to the National Health System. In a quarter of these situations, the precise cause is unknown.

Male infertility is believed to be the main reason behind half of the remainder of cases and it is most often because of problems with sperm motility. Other reasons for infertility in males are issues related to the ejaculation mechanism, low testosterone levels or a side-effect of certain medications.

For a man to be fertile it requires the production of an adequate amount of normal sperm with good quality traits to help them swim effectively and quickly enough to get into the female reproductive tract. Yet, there are no fertility treatments available to speed up sperm movement to increase a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant.

Now, researchers are exploring the value of platelets, a compound in blood, for infertility.
Blood is mostly made of a clear, yellowish liquid called plasma, along with red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Platelets are best known for the important role they play in blood clotting, but they also contain hundreds of proteins called “growth factors,” which are integral in the healing of an injury. Blood can be spun to extract the plasma, platelets and growth factors so that the latter are present in higher concentration-up to ten times higher.

The technique has been used to treat tendon injuries and baldness, but recent studies have found one growth factor in particular, platelet achieving factor, can naturally influence sperm. The more platelet achieving factor there is in a man’s sperm, the better it can swim.

In a new research trial starting in April 2016, researchers at the IVI Bibao and BTI Vitoria clinics in Spain will start testing the theory that adding RPR rich in growth factors to a sample of sperm will help improve its quality.

In treatment, around 9 ml of blood is removed from a patient’s arm and put into a mixer so it spins quickly and the blood separates into individual constituents. Scientists will then extract PRP containing growth factors and mix it with donated sperm samples.

The theory purports that sperm will absorb a higher concentration of growth factors, making them healthier and more fertile. Animal studies have suggested PRP can boost the health of sperm.

Conclusion:

Over the next three months, fertility specialists will compare the quality of sperm samples using a seminogram test, which also assesses sperm motility.
Concentrated PRP may have further clinical uses if the study can demonstrate sustained improvements which will allow conception to happen, says Dr. Simon Fishel, president of Care Fertility Clinics. He stated, “However, even sperm with good motility have problems fertilizing an egg because there are very many chemical processes that need to be undertaken.”


 
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