Scientists invent 3D printed sperm selection device for IVF use

The device offers another more effective option to traditional sperm selection methods.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Microscope of reproductive medicine.
Microscope of reproductive medicine.

Andrei Orlov/iStock 

Scientists have developed new technology to help couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF). This consists of a 3D-printed sperm selection device that targets male fertility problems to increase couples’ chances of success in having a baby.

The device offers another more effective option to traditional sperm selection methods, such as density gradient centrifugation and swim-up, which can cause DNA fragmentation and cell death, leading to unsuccessful IVF cycles, according to the press release.

"Male infertility plays a role in around 30 percent of cases, due to problems such as low sperm count, reduced motility or movement, or poor sperm quality," said Professor Majid Warkiani from the School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

"While much work has been done around selecting eggs and embryos to boost the success rates of IVF, sperm selection, an essential component in assisted reproduction, is by far the most neglected step in regard to technological innovation," he added.

High-quality sperm

Now, researchers from UTS and NeoGenix Biosciences, a UTS-born start-up, have engineered and trialed a new microfluidic sperm selection device that provides a more reliable process for selecting high-quality sperm.

"This new technology is a 3D printed, biologically inspired microfluidic sperm selection device, which replicates the female reproductive tract and the natural sperm selection process, where only a small percentage of total sperm reach the egg," Professor Warkiani said.

"We conducted extensive testing against conventional IVF selection methods, with the new method showing an 85% improvement in DNA integrity and an average 90% reduction in sperm cell death. The sperm selected by our method also demonstrated better recovery after freezing than traditional methods," he said.

Approximately one in six people worldwide are affected by infertility, according to the World Health Organization, and each IVF cycle comes with a 78 percent failure rate.

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