Australian scientists have developed a sound new method for selecting healthy sperm — by using acoustic waves.
The so-called “acoustofluidic” process is fast and automated, and it offers new hope for infertile people who want to grow a family of their own.
A team from Monash University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering tackled the problem through a unique method of combining acoustic waves with fluid dynamics.
The approach applies sound waves to sperm at a 30-degree angle to the flow direction, which pushes high-quality sperm out of the mainstream.
The new process can separate sperm that are shaped normally and have high DNA integrity from raw semen samples.
The device processes about 140 sperm per second to select more than 60,000 high-quality cells — the number required for IVF procedures — in less than 50 minutes. This is nearly four times faster than the method currently used.
The team leader, second-year PhD student Ms Junyang Gai, said the technique has enabled a continuous, high-throughput and size-dependent selection process for isolating high-quality sperm.
“Our results demonstrate that the selected sperm population exhibit a considerably higher percentage of progressively motile sperm (83 per cent), than both the initial raw sample (52 per cent) and the discarded subpopulation of sperm (36 per cent),” Ms Gai said.
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