Scientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, have created a microfluidic device that speeds up the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process.
According to the university, the device takes advantage of the rheotaxis process, which is described as a sperm’s ability to go against the flow. Scientists created a microfluidic channel for sperm to swim through and later added a microscopic corral with a retaining wall to attract the strong-swimming sperm.
Cornell assistant professor Soon Hon Cheong, PhD, said when the sperm detect the interference, they use it to swim upstream. Scientists then trap them and separate the good sperm from the bad ones, quickening the selection process.
Cornell assistant professor and chemist Alireza Abbaspourrad said conventional methods to separate strong sperm are tedious, but their device speeds up the IVF process. Scientists also said the device could also be useful for other species, too.
“Trying to find the highly motile sperm has been difficult to do, but this improves the chances of insemination,” Abbaspourrad said in a statement.
“The older method is tedious, time-consuming and not efficient. It’s the time that laboratory technicians and physicians expend that makes the process expensive,” he said. “With this method, it’s five minutes instead of several hours.”