Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


 


 

New fertility test kit for men developed

13 June 2011

By Kyrillos Georgiadis

Appeared in BioNews 611

A new fertility test for men that can detect DNA damage in sperm has been developed in the UK. The test, called SpermComet, could save couples undergoing fertility treatment both time and money since it will allow clinics to fast-track patients to the most appropriate treatment, say its developers.

Panos Lioulias, chief executive of Queen's University Belfast's venture capital company QUBIS Ltd, which is involved with the test that costs around £600, said it is 'the only test available that can help clinics to tailor treatment specifically to the man’s needs'.

Traditionally fertility clinics would evaluate a man's sperm simply by looking at number, motility and shape under a microscope. The problem is these observations cannot determine exactly how healthy these sperm are. Damaged DNA in sperm may lead to trouble with conception or repeat miscarriages.

The test, developed by fertility doctor Professor Sheena Lewis at Queen's University Belfast, checks for tiny tears and breaks in the sperm's DNA. Using chemicals, the tightly coiled DNA strands of each sperm are relaxed and then separated using an electric field. Undamaged DNA will then bunch together and shine brightly while damaged DNA fans out and glows weakly. Under a microscope this looks like the head and tail of a comet, hence the test's name. By measuring the length of the tail, the scientist can assess the health of the man's sperm.

The results of the test can be used to select the most appropriate treatment. For example, the test demonstrated those with between 26 percent and 49 percent damaged DNA in their sperm had higher chances of success with IVF, whereas those with scores of more than 50 percent had a higher risk of failure. In this case alternative treatments, such as ICSI, can be provided.

'Good quality sperm DNA is closely associated with getting pregnant and having a healthy baby', said Professor Lewis. 'We have found a way to fast-track couples to the best treatment for them, to save them time and money'.

However, Dr Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, pointed out that doctors have no way of fixing DNA damage in sperm. 'Are you going to get more babies for your pounds? That's the real question', he said.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

25 November 2013 - by David O'Rourke 
Researchers have developed a non-surgical test that could be used to tell whether men with zero sperm counts could father children via IVF...
04 November 2013 - by Dr Jackson Kirkman-Brown 
This week, almost eight years since home sperm-testing in the UK was first launched and made available in Boots, a second product to assess male fertility hit the shelves. Apart from the fact that the media seem to have forgotten the earlier ‘first’, what else has changed during this time?...
21 May 2012 - by Dr Victoria Burchell 
Exposure to low levels of environmental toxins may reduce male sperm counts, research in sheep suggests...
19 March 2012 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Men who consume a diet rich in saturated fat - the type found in junk food - have lower sperm counts than men whose diets contain low levels of such fats, according to scientists...
07 November 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
A PhD student at the University of Twente in the Netherlands has developed an at-home fertility test for men which counts sperm and measures their motility...

15 November 2010 - by Ben Jones 
A study has suggested that to prevent potential damage to their fertility men should sit with their legs separated when using laptops placed on their legs...
04 October 2010 - by Owen Clark 
A study has shown that mutations in the NR5A1 gene may be responsible for many unexplained cases of male infertility....
31 August 2010 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy 
Research carried out at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine suggests that the packaging of DNA affects the production of sperm and could explain some cases of male infertility....
09 August 2010 - by Victoria Kay 
A chemical found in some common plastics may be linked to reduced fertility in men, according to a new report. A US study found that men with the highest levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in their urine had a sperm count 23 per cent lower on average than those with the lowest BPA levels...
02 March 2009 - by Rosie Beauchamp 
In a study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine a link has been made between male infertility and testicular germ cell cancer. The research, lead by Dr Thomas Walsh at the University of California San Francisco, studied data collected from 22,562 male partners of...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Andy Greenfield

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Henry Malter

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross

Sandy Starr


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation