Approximately 1 in 6 couples worldwide can expect to suffer from some form of infertility, and the serious psychological and social ramifications that come with it. Fertility rates across the world have been dropping by approximately 1.5%/year with most developed countries now far below the replacement rate of 2.1 births/woman. As a result, assisted reproduction technologies (ART) are becoming a common feature of modern life: approximately 1% of all babies born in the UK are now conceived with In-Vitro fertilization (IVF), and over 800,000 IVF cycles are carried out annually in Europe at an average cost of ~£5000/cycle.
In the UK 37% of IVF is carried out due to male infertility. Despite this, there is no readily available treatment for low quality sperm and the conventional processing techniques such as density gradient centrifugation (DGC) or “swim-up” offer poor selectivity for crucial sperm quality metrics such as progressive motility or DNA fragmentation.
Instead, these processing techniques focus on removing dead cells or seminal plasma from the sample, and in the case of DGC, use strong gravitational forces which can lead to DNA fragmentation, a factor that is correlated with poor IVF outcomes. DGC also requires large capital expenditure costs for the centrifuge, continuous costs in the gradient fluids, and large amounts of technician time. Despite these drawbacks, the lack of viable alternatives means that DGC is used in most IVF procedures.
Our solution to these challenges is our proprietary microstructure-based separation technology. Our patented microstructure gently guides healthy cells to a central collection chamber, enabling easy collection of the very best cells from a sample. Cells collected in this way are highly motile, and have up to 10x less DNA fragmentation than samples processed via status quo techniques.