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10 Breakthroughs in Fertility and Assisted Reproduction

M3 India newsdesk May 12, 2017

Since the first baby born through in-vitro fertilization in 1978, there is a tremendous advancement in fertility medicine. In the field of fertility science, there has been a rapid development in assisted reproductive technologies from in-vitro fertilization to whole uterine transplantation.




Also, there has been a significant improvement in treating the infertility problems. Here’s the round-up of the recent advances in assisted reproduction and infertility treatments.


1. A Game Changer in Assisted Reproductive Field


For reproductively-challenged couple, assisted reproductive technology might be the last resort to fulfill their dreams. For the procedures such as IVF and ICSI, the best sperm is identified based on its speed and is used for fertilization. But, the researchers of the current study say that the DNA quality of the sperm candidate may not be accurately determined by its speed. The reduced motility of the sperm may be due to malfunctioning of the tail rather than its compromised quality. A new study found that a small black box when attached to the existing microscope can determine best quality sperm for IVF or ICSI.


The device works by producing the thickness map of the sample and other parameters that determines the sperm viability. The quantification of the quality of the sperm using this method will help increase the success rates of assisted reproductive treatments.


2. A Novel Approach Gives Hope to A Couple With Inheritable Disorders


For assisted reproductive techniques, the researchers used to deselect the embryos affected with genetic disorders. A recent study found that the replacement of abnormal mitochondria from an affected egg with normal mitochondria from a healthy donor reduced the chances of inheritable mitochondrial diseases. With the mitochondrial replacement therapy, the couple with inheritable mitochondrial disease is able to give birth to a baby free of mitochondrial disease. While the study is in its experimental stages, the researchers hope that the procedure might be beneficial to increase the success rates of various assisted reproductive treatments.


3. A Miracle Drug Prevents Infertility in Men with Cancer


Several clinical trials have been involved in cutting-edge initiatives to restore fertility in men who received cancer treatment in the childhood. While the researchers are working on the restoring methods of sperm production, they discovered that the granulocyte colony-stimulating factors which are used to treat infections in cancer patients might prevent infertility. This is an unexpected finding which may have an impact on preventing male infertility. The experts also add that further studies of the drug may be required to treat this intuitive disease in men.


4. Prosthetic Ovary Restores Fertility


The experts are in their way to develop new ways to restore fertility and improve the quality of life in women with cancer. A recent study has developed a prosthetic ovary using a 3D printer for implantation in patients with cancer. In the study, the researchers replaced the ovaries in the mice with ovary bioprosthesis. Apart from restoring the fertility status, the prosthetic ovary restored the normal female hormone cycle. This initiation may influence the further work on the tissue replacement that gives a hope to the infertility couple.


5. Anti-Cancer Drug for Infertility Treatment


Despite altering the fertility status in women who received cancer therapy, a study found that combination of chemotherapeutic agents is known to increase the number of eggs in the ovaries. A small clinical trial demonstrated the use of combination called ABVD had more non-growing eggs when compared with the women who received other chemotherapy drugs. But, the mechanism of how this combination would impact on fertility is unknown. Therefore, the researchers had set out a way to better understand the mechanism involved and use in clinical practice.


6. Discovery of A Molecule That Activates Sperm


Despite advances in fertility treatments, there is a steady growth in the prevalence of infertility in men. To combat this, the researchers identified a new approach to increase the motility of sperm so that it can reach the egg. The study demonstrated that an enzyme called alpha/beta hydrolase domain containing protein 2 (ABHD2) increases the activity of the sperm while in the female reproductive tract. Thus, the study might help identifying the strategies to enhance the enzyme activity making the sperm hypermotile and therefore increasing the chances to conceive.


7. Sperm Diet- A Novel Approach


There are many studies that demonstrate that the lycopene, a red pigment compound found in veggies, increases the sperm count by 70 percent and also contribute to other beneficiary effects in the male reproductive system. The current study involves determining the sperm quality in cases of raised blood lycopene levels. Researchers found that the lycopene is able to reduce the DNA damage and hence improves the quality of sperm which is already in the developmental stage. But still there is need for more scientific evidence so as to prove the beneficiary effects of lycopene and widen its use to improve the sperm quality.


8. Marijuana Receptor – A Key for Novel Fertility Treatment


The previous studies discovered that the cannabinoid receptor (CB2) helps regulate the production of sperm. Despite affecting the male fertility, marijuana also has therapeutic implication that could treat male infertility. The study found that the animal models treated with CB2 activator resulted in increased spermatogenesis. Researchers also found that further stimulation of the beneficiary effects of this cannabinoids can be achieved by using a chemical cocktail.


9. Analysis of Male Fertility through User-Friendly Gadget


Apart from discovering novel treatments for infertility, the researchers also focus on identifying newer ways to diagnose infertility. With the advancement in the technology, the researchers are able to link the electronics to the clinical implication which is demonstrated in the current study. The new study discovered a device that helps to measure the quality and quantity of the sperms in the semen sample. The device consists of disposable microchip with a capillary tip and a rubber bulb to handle the semen sample. Also, the team has created a smartphone application so as to provide guidance for using the device and also a wireless weight scale connected to the smartphone to measure the quantity of sperm cells in the sample. The trial is in its protyping stage and may require further evidence to gain the approval.


10. A Power Motor to Mobilize the Sperm


A new study introduced customized micromotors that serve as motors for increasing the activity of the sperm which has motion deficiency. The study used a metal-coated polymer microhelicles that fit around the sperm tail and helps in transportation of sperms with compromised motility and thus the micromotor creates the proper means of assisted fertilization. Despite the challenges in achieving the successful fertilization, this novel approach would pave a way for further studies towards the assisted reproduction.


The scientists continue to study the science involved in the fertility field helping most of the infertility couple to fulfill their dream of parenthood. With newer technologies and advancements in the reproductive science, the scientists are able to establish well-defined infertility treatments.

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