Team of Porto develops technique for the preservation of spermatozoids

Researchers at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS) in Porto have developed a technique that “improves the preservation of sperm” used in fertility treatments and “minimizes the economic investment” made by the couple, said the official.

“We know that today a third of couples have fertility or infertility problems, which makes up about two million couples worldwide, and of these couples, 30% of the problems are due to the malefactor,” he said. Marco Alves, an ICBAS researcher at the University of Porto and the person in charge of the project.

The project, called ‘Spermboost’, began to be developed in 2016 and emerged from ‘a market need and public health’.

“We thought it would be worth looking for some compounds, proteins or mechanisms that could improve the preservation of sperm, so we researched a substance that could accelerate the sperm and keep it viable longer,” he said.

According to Marco Alves, the research developed by ICBAS showed that through a “protein activator” the sperm “is mobile after two hours [time to remain stored] without losing qualities”.

“When we do an in vitro fertilization, we never know the best spermatozoid, so we use the preparation. Our technology, through video, shows that spermatozoa, after two hours, have a very low mortality, compared to techniques used, “he said.

The solution found by the researchers thus allows “faster and more efficient fertilization,” without “sperm losing DNA” and it is necessary for men to do “more than a collection of gametes”.

“This treatment may make it less likely that men will be collecting,” he said. “In addition, the likelihood of in vitro fertilization going well is greater.”

The researcher also explained that, overall, the market for fertility treatment already exceeds 4.8 billion euros, and the process of in vitro fertilization can cost 50,000 to half a million euros per couple.

“It is not a question of the costs of the treatments, but in fact, every in vitro fertilization can cost between € 50,000 and € half a million.” The fact that this solution allows men to travel less frequently to clinics to collect sperm, allows treatment costs to be reduced as well, “said Marco Alves.

At the moment, the team, made up of six researchers from ICBAS and Professor Alberto Barros, clinical director of the Reproductive Genetics Center in Oporto, plans to carry out the biosafety tests so that, within two years, of the pharmaceutical market.

The project ‘Spermboost’, which already has the national and world patent, was distinguished in September under the BIP Proof initiative, with a prize of 10,000 euros, and has the support of the Amadeu Dias Foundation.

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