The Fertile Chip is a new method to eliminate sperm with fragmentation in the double-strand of DNA from the ejaculate. In this way, the success rate in the different assisted reproduction techniques is improved.
At first, the Fertile Chip was designed to select the sperm with the lowest percentage of DNA fragmentation. However, it has been seen that sperm selected with this device also have better motility and a lower amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Therefore, the Fertile Chip offers numerous benefits in the field of assisted reproduction, although it is not possible to use it in all male patients.
What is the Fertile Chip?
The Fertile Chip is a device that allows the selection of sperm with better mobility and less double fragmentation of the DNA chain. This device, therefore, is capable of separating the best sperm to be used in an assisted reproduction treatment.
It is a slide with two chambers, an inlet and a collection chamber, connected through a microfluidic channel. The semen sample is placed in the inlet chamber of the device and, after a while, the sperm that have reached the collection chamber is selected.
Thanks to this modern device, it is possible to increase the pregnancy rate and decrease the probability of miscarriage.
Sperm DNA fragmentation
These are breaks or injuries in the chain of the genetic material of sperm. These breaks can occur in a single strand or in both strands of DNA. In any case, the presence of fragmentation in the DNA of the sperm causes male sterility.
The higher the percentage of fragmentation in the male gametes, the lower the probability of achieving a pregnancy and the higher the miscarriage rate.
The Fertile Chip is recommended in those patients who present high DNA fragmentation in the seminal sample, which makes it difficult to achieve a natural pregnancy.
In addition, other situations in which the Chip Fertile technique is indicated are the following:
- Patients with slow embryonic development in previous cycles.
- Patients with implantation failures in previous IVF cycles.
- Repeat abortions.
Advantages of the Chip Fertile
This sperm selection device has been designed to classify healthy and motile sperm for later use in assisted reproductive treatment.
The benefits of the Chip Fertile technique are listed below:
- It does not require the processing of the seminal sample, that is, it is not necessary to carry out sperm washing and/or sperm training. In this way, sperm damage is reduced.
- It does not require prior treatment of the seminal sample, thus reducing the probability of contamination.
- Easy and fast to use.
- Simple method monitoring through a simple microscope.
- It does not affect embryo culture.
In short, the Fertile Chip is a method that does not provide added risks and that will allow a better selection of sperm with a lower percentage of fragmentation in their DNA and with a lower concentration of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which would cause oxidative stress.
In addition, this device contains a space that facilitates the identification of seminal samples, improving traceability and protocols in the laboratory.
The Effects of Using Fertile Chip in Sperm Selection
According to different studies, the Fertile Chip offers significant differences compared to unprocessed seminal samples. Despite this, the complementary technique is not always recommended for sperm selection.
For example, the Fertile Chip is not recommended for patients with a severe male factor, as it will be difficult to retrieve enough sperm. The Fertile Chip is also not recommended for previously frozen seminal samples.
Questions from users
Is a minimum amount of sperm necessary to do the Fertile Chip technique?
The Fertile Chip uses the microfluidic technique to filter the male sample and thus obtain a greater quantity of sperm that lack fragmentation in the double strand of their DNA. These selected sperm could be used in ICSI, thus reducing the likelihood that sperm with the fragmented double strand will be microinjected.
It is true that in order to obtain a sufficient amount of sperm after performing the Fertile Chip technique, it will be necessary for us to have minimum values for sperm concentration, motility and morphology.
As a general rule, a minimum concentration of 5 million spermatozoa per millilitre has been established, 20% of spermatozoa with A + B motility and 2% of spermatozoa with normal morphology. However, it is true that when performing the technique, if some parameter were lower and another higher, they could compensate each other and finally enough sperm could be recovered for ICSI.
Is the Fertile Chip better or the MACS technique?
Both the Fertile Chip and the annexin or MACS columns are filters that are used in the embryology laboratory to try to select the best sperm to microinject the oocytes. In general, both filters are said to serve to select sperm with less DNA fragmentation. However, this is not exactly the case.
Therefore, the Fertile Chip is best for men with sperm DNA fragmentation, especially double-stranded. Instead, the MACS technique will help us reduce the number of fragmented sperm.
In which cases is the use of the Fertile Chip indicated?
The FERTILE® chip is a sperm selection device that uses the microfluidic technique to select sperm. By means of this, the conditions of the vaginal tract are mimicked, facilitating the selection of sperm with better motility, morphology, and low rates of DNA fragmentation.
The seminal sample is used without any preparation, it is not centrifuged, so the damage that occurs during it and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are eliminated.
The FERTILE® chip is mainly recommended in patients in whom a high double-stranded sperm DNA fragmentation has been diagnosed, although it could also be used in couples who in previous cycles have shown slower embryonic kinetics than normal, implantation failures or repeat abortions
What is the price of the Fertile Chip?
The cost of the complementary Fertile Chip technique ranges between 400-500 euros, although there may be differences depending on the assisted reproduction clinic where it is carried out.
Therefore, it is advisable to request a personalized budget detailing the techniques included in the price of the treatment and what complementary techniques would cost, such as the Fertile Chip.
How long does it take to collect the sperm from the Fertile Chip?
When the seminal sample is incorporated into the inlet chamber of the Fertile chip, it is left to incubate at room temperature (37ºC) for approximately 30 minutes.
Throughout this time, the sperm move towards the collection chamber and, once the time has elapsed, they are collected for use in the in vitro fertilization laboratory.