A chip to accurately count sperm and measure their motility has been developed by Loes Segerink, researcher at the Universiteit Twente in The Netherlands. And by inserting this chip into a compact device, an accurate at-home test kit for men to assess fertility might become possible soon.
Here how it works, according to the press release:
“On the chip, sperm flow through a liquid-filled channel, beneath electrode “bridges”. When a cell passes beneath one of these electrodes, there is a brief fluctuation in the electrical resistance. These events are counted. To test the reliability of her concentration measurements, Segerink added microspheres (tiny balls) to the liquid. Would the system only count sperm, or would it also register other particles? She found that the method was selective enough to distinguish sperm from microspheres. The system was also able to reliably distinguish white blood cells from other bodies. In addition to being an indicator of sperm quality, the white cell count provides important additional information to gynaecologists.”
Second is the assessment of motility: the chip can not only count sperm, but it is also able to distinguish the motile sperm from the non-motile. The test promises to be an inexpensive way to obtain a diagnosis and it might be just a matter of time until this home test will hit the markets.