An Indian and A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School, Boston, have invented a smartphone-based device that can accurately measure semen quality in seconds with the help of mobile application.
According to the study published in the U.S. journal Science Translational Medicine,’ There are more than 45 million couples worldwide are affected by infertility, but for evaluating quality of semen, current standard methods are expensive, labor-intensive and slow to return results.
Hadi Shafiee, principal investigator at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said,”Men have to provide semen samples in these rooms at a hospital, a situation in which they often experience stress, embarrassment, pessimism and disappointment,”.
“We wanted to come up with a solution to make male infertility testing as simple and affordable as home pregnancy tests.”
The device measures sperm motility and concentration based on unwashed, unprocessed semen samples. The accuracy of the device was similar to computer-assisted, lab-based analysis even when performed by untrained users.
But according to the new study by Shafiee and colleagues, this portable device can quantified sperm concentration and motility in seconds, using the processing power and camera found in widely-available smartphones.
The team tested its device on 350 unwashed and unprocessed semen samples from a fertility clinic to evaluate semen quality based on World Health Organization guidelines. It was able to identify abnormal sperm samples, based on sperm concentration and motility, and determine infertility with roughly 98% accuracy.
This sperm test works using a combination of hardware and software technology. Shafiee revealed, in combination with a disposable kit and chip used to collect a man’s sperm sample.
First of all, Samples are inserted into the chip, which is in turn inserted into an accessory case containing lenses and an LED to illuminate and magnify the sample for capture by the phone’s camera.
“The lenses align with the phone’s camera,” Shafiee said.
The app records a short video of the sperm as they move around inside the chip and uses an algorithm to measure the total number of sperm, to track their movement (motility) and then to calculate the total numbers that are moving.
If sperm concentrations are below 15 million per milliliter or motility below 40%, that signals to the user that his sperm may have some fertility issues, at which point he should see his clinician.
“The results don’t mean that if there is a negative result, the person is infertile,” Shafiee said. “There could be enough for IVF or other treatment technologies.”
Allan Pacey, a professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield said,”The development of an easy, cheap and accurate method to evaluate the sperm present in a sample of semen would be very welcome, particularly if it could be carried out by someone without specific training and in any location,”.
“Clearly, this technology will need to be evaluated by other people, and in other locations, but I am impressed by its potential.”
Sources: CNN, Global Times Network