Sticky sperm leads the way to increased IVF success

Submitted by Shelby D Burns Thu 12/05/2013

Sticky sperm may hold the key to greater success for couples undergoing IVF treatment. The largest trial aimed at testing this theory was launched in late October during the first day of National Infertility Awareness Week.

Some sperm sticks, others not so much

The trial is utilizing a technique that relies on picking only mature and fertile sperm that stick to a specially coated plate for injection into the egg. The coating is made of hyaluronan which is a naturally occurring substance often used as a lubricant. “It is fascinating that a substance with such strong lubricating properties should be sticky for some, but not all sperm. We think that this paradoxical property is what gives only mature and healthy sperm with little or no DNA damage the ability to latch on to the coat that surrounds the egg,” said Dr. David Miller, of the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Leeds.

Increasing the chance of success

About 75% of IVF treatment cycles end in failure. Researchers are hoping this new technique will increase the success rate by starting with sticky sperm which are more capable of interacting with the egg.

3,700 couples participating in the largest trial ever for an IVF treatment Experts at the University of Leeds and Sheffield University, Birmingham University and Queen’s University in Belfast will be testing the theory, hoping to recruit 3700 couples for IVF treatment in 14 different clinics. “We are always pleased to hear about any new research which might help patients who are struggling to conceive and we look forward to hearing more about the progress of the trial. It’s not always easy to have a baby and we welcome new advances which may increase success rates of fertility treatment,” said Clare Lewis-Jones, chief executive of Infertility Network UK, the patient charity behind National Infertility Awareness Week in the UK.

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