At-home male fertility tests typically only let users count the number of sperm in a sample, but another important characteristics that usually only labs measure is sperm motility, or how energetic the sperm cells are as they move around. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital have now developed an automated system that measures the concentration of sperm cells and their motility using a smartphone and cheap snap-on components.
A semen sample is placed into a disposable chamber that attached to a device that looks like a smartphone case. Within is a disposable microchip and light source that place a measured part of the sample in front of the camera and illuminate it.
An special app running on the smartphone is then used to image and evaluate the number and activity of the sperm cells.
Of note, the YO sperm test system, which is very similar to this technology, was recently unveiled and is already for sale directly to consumers.
Here’s some details of the results evaluating the technology:
Using a total of 350 clinical semen specimens at a fertility clinic, we have shown that our assay can analyze an unwashed, unprocessed liquefied semen sample with <5-s mean processing time and provide the user a semen quality evaluation based on the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines with ~98% accuracy. The work suggests that the integration of microfluidics, optical sensing accessories, and advances in consumer electronics, particularly smartphone capabilities, can make remote semen quality testing accessible to people in both developed and developing countries who have access to smartphones.
Study in Science Translational Medicine: An automated smartphone-based diagnostic assay for point-of-care semen analysis…