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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sperm home test kit

How are the little swimmers doing? Low sperm counts or poor sperm quality are behind around a third of cases of couples who can’t conceive. A visit to a clinic for a test can be awkward, but a smartphone-based system lets men determine whether that’s necessary by checking their fertility at home.

Men often find it embarrassing to give a semen sample at a clinic, says Yoshitomo Kobori at the Dokkyo Medical University Koshigaya Hospital in Japan. So Kobori devised an alternative. “I thought a smartphone microscope could be an easy way to look at problems with male fertility,” he says.

Kobori and his colleagues came up with a lens less than a millimetre thick that can be slotted into a plastic “jacket”. Clipped on to the camera of a smartphone, it magnifies an image by 555 times – perfect for looking at sperm.

To do a home test, a man would apply a small amount of semen to a plastic sheet around five minutes after ejaculation and press it against the microscope.

Watch them swim

The phone’s camera can then take a 3-second video clip of the sperm. When viewed enlarged on a computer screen, it is easy for someone to count the total number of sperm and the number that are moving – key indicators of fertility.

Kobori says the system works as well as the software used in fertility clinics. When the team ran 50 samples through both systems, they got almost identical results. The work was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Helsinki this month.

The system can’t assess the ability of sperm to fertilise an egg. “This method is only the simple version of semen analysis,” says Kobori. But that could be enough for men to identify potential fertility problems, and decide whether to seek help from a doctor.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New microscopy may identify best sperm cells: Cutting-edge innovation pinpoints top candidates for assisted reproductive technology

New microscopy may identify best sperm cells: Cutting-edge innovation pinpoints top candidates for assisted reproductive technology: New microscopic technology promises to be a game-changer in the field of reproductive assistance. A team of scientists has devised a new method of microscopy allowing scientists to perform clinical sperm analysis for in vitro fertilization without the use of staining, which can affect the viability of sperm samples.

IVF baby born from world’s oldest sperm

Little Xavier Powell has been dubbed the world’s oldest baby after he was born from sperm that was harvested nearly 23 years ago.

The baby boy recently received the title from the Guinness World Book of Records, which said that he was conceived at a fertility group in Queensland, Australia, on Sept 24 last year.

According to The Mirror UK, Xavier was born on June 17 this year to Australian couple Alex Powell and Vi Nguyen via in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

When he was 15 years old, Mr Powell was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system – Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Although he was only a teenager at the time, his stepmother had advised him to freeze his sperm before undergoing chemotherapy.

Sperm cells can be easily damaged by chemotherapy as it kills cells that divide rapidly, an article by the American Cancer Society explains.

The treatment may also reduce the number of sperm cells, reduce their quality, and cause the cancer patient to suffer from infertility.

After what Mr Powell described as “an awkward session” at the sperm bank, a sample of his semen remained frozen in the facility for over two decades.

He subsequently made a full recovery from cancer and later met his wife.

The couple decided to have a child through IVF in late 2013, and spent nearly a year as well as half of the frozen sperm before getting pregnant with Xavier.

On his son’s birth, Mr Powell said in an interview with 9News: “For me, it’s that sort of feeling in life you want to relive every moment if you can.”

He added that they might try for a second child using the same method.

Meanwhile, a baby girl born in the United States in 2009 is believed to have been the titleholder of ‘World’s oldest baby’ before Xavier’s arrival.

ABC News reported that she was born 22 years after her father Chris Biblis froze his sperm while battling leukaemia in 1986.

According to medical experts, sperm frozen at -196 degrees Celsius can be stored and used after an indefinite period of time.

In a report by The Guardian UK, Alan Pacey, an andrologist at Sheffield University elaborated: “There’s very little happening at the cellular level. There’s no enzymatic activity, no DNA transcription and everything metabolic is switched off.”