Fertility Chip Measures Concentration and Motility of semen

<P align=left>Loes Segerink, a researcher at the University of Twente has developed a "fertility chip" that can accurately count sperm and measure their motility.‎ The chip can be inserted into a compact device for one-off use.‎ A home test kit will soon make it possible for men to test their sperm in a familiar environment.‎ As a result, there is a greater chance of obtaining a correct diagnosis, also the method is simple and inexpensive.‎ Segerink's doctoral defence will take place on ۴ November ۲۰۱۱.‎</P>
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The lab-on-a-chip developed by Segerink measures sperm concentration.‎ The importance of the sperm concentration is that the fertility standard states that a millilitre of ejaculate should contain at least ۲۰ million sperm.‎ A second important aspect of fertility is motility.‎ This too can be measured using the lab-on-a-chip.‎ Simple home test kits are already commercially available.‎ These indicate whether the concentration is "above or below the standard value.‎" These tests are too limited, however, as they do not give accurate concentration readings.‎
How does it work?‎
On the chip, sperm flow through a liquid-filled channel, beneath electrode "bridges.‎" When a cell passes beneath one of these electrodes, there is a brief fluctuation in the electrical resistance.‎ These events are counted.‎ To test the reliability of her concentration measurements, Segerink added microspheres (tiny balls) to the liquid.‎ Would the system only count sperm, or would it also register other particles?‎ She found that the method was selective enough to distinguish sperm from microspheres.‎ The system was also able to reliably distinguish white blood cells from other bodies.‎ In addition to being an indicator of sperm quality, the white cell count provides important additional information to gynaecologists.‎
To swim or not to swim
Finally, sperm movement (motility) is another important measure of quality.‎ A small adjustment of the lab-on-a-chip is all that is needed to sort motile sperm from non-motile sperm, after which both can be counted separately.‎ By measuring sperm motility in this way, the chip offers a truly complete test.‎
Segerink developed the "fertility chip" in the BIOS Lab-on-a-Chip research group of Prof.‎ Albert van den Berg, in collaboration with the Twente Medical Spectrum.‎ The research group is part of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente.‎ Various companies (PigGenetics, Blue۴Green, R&R Mechatronics, Menzis, and Lionix) also participated in this project, funded by the STW Technology Foundation in The Netherlands.‎
In ۲۰۱۱, Segerink received a Valorisation Grant, as a first step towards establishing a company.‎ This will provide her with a platform for refining the fertility chip and its accompanying read-out device into a market-ready product.‎