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Australian scientists magnify sperm to identify 'healthiest'

15 November 2010
Appeared in BioNews 584

A new IVF technique developed in Australia offers hope to couples who have problems conceiving due to damaged sperm. The technique called Digital High-Mag allows fertility experts to study sperm cells at much higher resolution than before, enabling them to more readily detect those cells most likely to lead to a successful conception and full-term pregnancy. The new technique enables sperm cells to be magnified to 7,300 times their actual size, which is 18 times more powerful than present technology.

Professor Peter Illingworth, Medical Director of IVF Australia, where the approach was trialled, said this 'will allow us to detect the subtle damage to sperm that can prevent successful conception or a viable pregnancy. We can then select the right sperm to inject into the egg which is most likely to produce a full term pregnancy and live birth'.

A study conducted at IVF Australia's Western Sydney laboratory found that the use of Digital High-Mag more than doubled the success rate in this patient group, with pregnancy rates increasing from 13 to 36 percent, with no reported miscarriages. This study included men who were considered to have moderate to high levels of DNA-damaged sperm, either 30 percent DNA-damaged sperm, or less than four percent of normally-shaped sperm.

Professor Illingworth said: 'Our experience has shown this technique produces more fertilised eggs, more embryos to transfer or freeze, and a significantly higher pregnancy ratethan was possible before'. He added: 'For the first time, there is an effective, non-invasive approach to IVF that will assist men with DNA damage in their sperm to have children'.

Conception chances magnified by giant sperm
Sydney Morning Herald |  11 November 2010
Digital high magnification helps overcome male infertility
IVF Australia |  11 November 2010
Magnified birth rates - IVF screening breakthrough
Daily Telegraph, Australia |  13 November 2010
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