New use for old technology may increase male fertility


Most couples struggling with conception know that one common culprit is male infertility, usually sperm cells with low mobility in which the genetic material or DNA may be damaged. Unfortunately, DNA damage in sperm cells is difficult to identify without breaking open the sperm for chemical analysis. As one would expect, the sperm is destroyed in the process and rendered useless for reproduction.

A non-destructive method of testing sperm DNA is needed then for those couples experiencing this infertility issue. Using the inVia Raman microscope, research teams at the Universities of Edinburgh and California are attempting to develop just that by experimenting on live sperm. After immobilizing a single sperm with a tightly focused laser beam (a technique known as optical tweezing), it can be analyzed by Raman spectroscopy and the health of the DNA assessed. A statistical model to predict the healthiness of sperm using the Raman spectra is currently being developed, offering the potential of rapid health reporting. The most viable sperm could then be selected for IVF treatment, increasing the chances of successful fertilization and potentially leading to more happy couples becoming parents.

Additionally, this same technique may be used on the hopeful mother’s eggs to check their health and viability. It will be interesting to see how this groundbreaking research develops and enhances the success of IVF and increases the options of parents facing the challenge of infertility.

Source: Renishaw


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