The Fertile Chip is a new assisted reproduction technique which allows for the elimination of sperm with double strand DNA fragmentation in from the ejaculate, with the aim of increasing success rates of the different treatments employed.
Sperm DNA fragmentation is the breakage of, or damage in, the genetic material which the sperm carry, and can be damage in one or both of the DNA chains. It is one of the causes of male sterility. The higher the percentage of DNA fragmentation in the male gamete, the lower the pregnancy rate and the higher incidence of miscarriage.
Until recently, one of the genetic tests that was done on couples who arrived at a clinic with fertility problems was a study of sperm DNA fragmentation, which determined the percentage of fragmentation, without distinguishing between single strand or double strand breakages.
After many years of investigation, the large influence this problem has on sterility has been demonstrated. As a result, the Fertile Chip can be included as a routine test in fertility studies, with the objective of avoiding implantation failures, or miscarriage in the case of achieving the pregnancy.
In the first instance, this technique was created to select those sperm with the lowest percentage of DNA fragmentation. However, it has also been shown that they also have better motility and a lower number of reactive oxygen species. As such, the benefits that it gives are many, when undergoing an assisted reproduction treatment.
HOW DOES THE FERTILE CHIP WORK?
The Fertile Chip is a device which has two chambers, an input chamber and a collection chamber, which are connected by a microfluidic channel. The semen sample is introduced into the input channel and those that make it to the collection chamber are selected.
After the sperm sample is introduced into the input chamber, it is incubated at 37°C for 30 minutes. During this time, the sperm make their way to the collection chamber. After this time they are collected and used in the in vitro fertilization treatment.
ADVANTAGES OF THE FERTILE CHIP
Thanks to the Fertile Chip, not only do we see an increase in the probability of getting pregnant, but also a reduction in miscarriage. Furthermore, it offers multiple advantages in assisted reproduction treatments:
- The process of sperm washing and capacitation is not necessary, which means less damage to sperm.
- No previous treatment of the sperm sample is needed, and so the possibility of contamination is reduced.
- Allows for a higher percentage of motile sperm to be selected, with better morphology and less DNA fragmentation, compared to the more frequently used sperm capacitation techniques.
- The technique is controlled simply, using a microscope.
- Quick and easy to use.
- Does not affect embryo culture.
To summarize, the Fertile Chip does not pose any risks. On the contrary, it allows for better selection of sperm with less DNA fragmentation and a lower concentration of reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, this device is designed to aid with the identification of sperm samples, improving laboratory protocols and traceability in procedures.
FOR WHO IS THE FERTILE CHIP RECOMMENDED?
Based on diverse studies, it has to be mentioned that the Fertile Chip is a complementary technique that is not always advisable for all men. For example, it is not recommended for patients with severe male factor, as it would be difficult to recover enough sperm cells. It is also not advisable for sperm samples that have previously been frozen.
It is recommended for patients who have been diagnosed with a high level of sperm DNA double strand fragmentation, which makes it difficult to get pregnant in a natural way. Also, for couples who have displayed embryo kinetics that are slower than usual in previous cycles, repeated miscarriages or implantation failures.
At Ovoclinic we work with the fertilization techniques Comet Fertility and Fertility Chip, to achieve pregnancy in our patients.