October 20th, 2017
As per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research, more than 10% women in United States, aging in between 15 to 44, struggle to conceive or maintain successful pregnancy. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a method of fusing sperm cells and eggs outside the body. Once fused, the embryo is implanted inside the uterus. This technique is considered as the last option. Unfortunately, success rate is as low as 20-30% only. Not to forget the emotional and physical sufferings that a couple undergoes throughout this procedure is nerve-wrecking!
Dr. Natan Shaked, PhD, of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tel Aviv University and his student Dr. Miki Hifler introduced a new microscopic technology to help reproductively challenged couples. They claim it to be a game changing technique! The conventional sperm cells analysis includes staining of the sample which can compromise its resilience. To attain successful fertilization, sperms should not be stained, as discoloration can damage the expected fetus. The new microscopy method excludes staining thus, protecting viability of sperms.
Currently there are two types of ART methods; intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). InICSI, sperm is injected to mature egg cell and transferred into uterus. While the later technique involves drug administration which allows ovaries to produce numerous eggs. These eggs are then transferred to a Petri dish where they fuse with sperm cells samples. Once fertilization is accomplished, it is implanted in to uterus. Dr. Shaked’s technique is applicable to both methods but, significantly beneficial in ICSI.
According to Dr. Shaked, till now sperm cells quality was determined on basis of speed. However, speed is not the eligibility criteria. Sometimes a slow-moving sperm can be the best candidate for successful fertilization. Even an immobilized sperm too! ART can be more successful if we focus on the complete structure and composition of sperms and successful ART means birth without any congenital defects/diseases.
His device is a small black box attached to a microscope. It has an automated software that detects all physical parameters of the sperm sample, allowing evaluation of sperm cells viability. it confines phase imaging methods that determines thickness of sample by recording light passage through it. This helps in finding out the quantity of qualified sperms required for successful pregnancies.
Dr. shaked and team has recently submitted their patent and clinical trials are expected to begin next year on IVF patients in Israel.