The process for selecting healthy sperm cells just got easier, thanks to a Florida Atlantic University team who have successfully created a microfluidic chip designed to collect sperm cells that are the best candidates for fertilization. As reported by EMedNews, the approach is a simple, yet effective, one that ensures the cells that are collected are active and intact since the microfluidic chip requires the cells to swim into a collection chamber.
The method behind the microfluidic chip surpasses the previous centrifugation techniques which, up to now, have been standard for sperm collection. The new method is quicker, simpler, and much more accurate. The chip is designed around the fact that sperm naturally swim against mucus flows in the cervix before finally reaching and fertilizing the egg (a process referred to as rheotaxis). The new device utilizes the same concept of fluid flow in a “survival of the fittest” type strategy because only the healthy sperm that can swim and make it despite the stress will ever make the cut. The natural process of fertilization operates in the same manner.
Infertility is a world-wide problem. The World Health Organization estimates that around 48 million couples and 186 individuals are unable to conceive a child. Healthy sperm are in high demand. Until the new process was birthed, the techniques for isolating sperm cells that were alive and healthy from those that were dead or deformed was severely limited. Furthermore, the conventional centrifugation process can also compromise the sperm cells which is certainly not optimal.
The microfluidic chip was developed by Waseem Asghar, Ph.D., an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University who worked tirelessly with fellow researchers to bring the microfluidic chip to life. Beginning his days in science and medicine at the University of Texas at Arlington, Asghar has received a number of prestigious awards throughout his career for his inventions. Among is awards were the STEM Fellowship and the Humanity in Science Award. He strives to solve real world problems in medicine with his knowledge and skills such as the invention of the microfluidic chip. He is also active in the studies of infectious diseases and disease diagnosis.
One of the most amazing attributes of the microfluidic chip is that it is a one-step process that takes around one hour to complete. Minimal training is required to operate the device which is an important feature since highly qualified doctors are often needed in other life-saving procedures so it frees them up to tend to what less trained medical personnel can’t do.
Simplified solutions are the order of the day when it comes to technical medical advances such as new and improved medical trolley carts and other modernized equipment that serves important, lifesaving purposes. As scientist advance in their medical inventions, it is imperative for medical equipment to advance too.
From saving lives to helping infertile couples and individuals have families, science and technology keep moving forward, making our world a better place.