Declan Keane, BSc, MBA; Sean Fair, PhD; Eoin White, PhD; David Newport, PhD; Leonard O’Sullivan, PhD; Barry Russell, BEng
Competition Sponsor: EIT Health of the European Union
One in six couples require fertility treatment and this is increasing due to increasing maternal age and a decrease in sperm counts by 52% over the last 40 years. During in vitro fertilization (IVF), the method of choice of fertilizing a woman’s eggs is using intra cytoplasmic sperm injection, a procedure which involves the embryologist selecting a suitable sperm and injecting it directly into the egg. While the embryologist can select motile and morphologically normal sperm they have no information on the DNA integrity of the sperm, as the only test available destroys the sperm. Eggs fertilized using sperm of poor DNA integrity have a reduced chance of developing and women whose partners have high levels of DNA fragmentation are twice as likely to have a miscarriage.
Our multidisciplinary team at neoMimix have developed a simple to use biomimicry technology that is the best-in-class sperm selection technology in terms of its ability to select human sperm with intact DNA (as assessed across three test sites). In a mouse-model, our technology improved fertilization rates by 8% points and pregnancy rates by 12% points. neoMimix’s microfluidics based technology stimulates sperm to swim against a fluid flow within microchannels simulating how sperm are naturally selected as they swim towards the fallopian tubes against an outward flow of mucus. We are currently working towards regulatory approval of this class II device and are starting to develop an embryo culture and diagnostics system based on our microfluidics platform, which will revolutionize the entire IVF lab into a desk-top sized instrument.