Being touted as the male equivalent of the at-home pregnancy test
More than 45 million couples around the world will struggle with infertility. While some of the procedures to address issues can be incredibly expensive, investigators at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital set out to develop home-based diagnostic tests.
The test they have developed can measure the quality of semen with a smartphone accessory. The team’s findings show the device can identify ‘abnormal’ semen samples based upon the sperm concentration and mobility, with 98% accuracy.
Details of their research have been published online on Science Translational Medicine’s website.
“We wanted to come up with a solution to make male infertility testing as simple and affordable as home pregnancy tests,” said Hadi Shafiee, a principal investigator in the Division of Engineering in Medicine and Renal Division of Medicine at BWH. “Men have to provide semen samples in these rooms at a hospital, a situation in which they often experience stress, embarrassment, pessimism, and disappointment. Current clinical tests are lab-based, time-consuming, and subjective. This test is low-cost, quantitative, highly accurate, and can analyse a video of an undiluted, unwashed semen sample in less than five seconds.”
The device is made up of an optical attachment, which connects to a smartphone and a disposable add-on where the semen sample is loaded. The device is then controlled via an application that guides the user through each step.
The analyser is currently in a prototyping stage. The team plans to perform additional tests and will file for FDA approval.