Researchers have developed an automated smartphone-based semen analyzer for quantitative measurement of sperm concentration and motility for point-of-care male infertility screening.
Products like SpermCheck, FertilMARQ and Trak are all FDA-approved, but they only analyze how many sperm cells are in the semen. These products don’t measure sperm motility and that’s how this new device is different.
The new technology, consisting of an external accessory in which sperm samples are inserted and an app that analyzes them, could make testing as straightforward as a home pregnancy test.
Fertilex is an inexpensive smartphone attachment that quickly and accurately evaluates semen samples for fertility testing. (M.K. Kanakasabapathy et al., Science Translational Medicine/2017)
Developed by Harvard researchers, it harnesses the power of a smartphone app with a 3D-printed optical attachment for logging a video of sample sperm cells.
Computer algorithms then analyze the video recording, counting the sperm and evaluating if they are fast swimmers.
The smartphone-based assay can be performed at home or in a remote clinic without access to laboratory equipment with up to 98% accuracy.
The new device makes the whole process much less awkward and less expensive. It is made of a smartphone attachment, a disposable microchip and an app; it was 3D printed and cost less than $5 to make.
The new technology is still a few years away, but the team behind it hopes this new form of testing will make infertility testing both easier and cheaper for men, avoiding the need for them to go to a clinic.
But he warned that there could be sperm issues that go beyond numbers or motility. The authors themselves said that they are looking at also covering morphology or sperm shape in the future.
The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.