Fertility test breakthrough at Queen's

Published Monday, 06 June 2011
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A new test for male fertility which could help save heartache, time and money for millions of couple has been developed at Queen's University in Belfast.

SpermComet provides unique information by measuring damaged DNA in individual sperm to predict the success of infertility treatments and fast-track couples to the treatment most likely to succeed.

Professor Sheena Lewis, who leads the Reproductive Medicine research group at Queen's, believes the test will cut waiting times and improve the chances of conception.

Prof Lewis said: "One in six couples has difficulty in having a family. In 40% of cases, the problems are related to the man.

"Until now, there have been few accurate ways of measuring a man's fertility. Traditionally, the diagnosis of male infertility has relied on semen analysis.

"This provides the basic information on which fertility specialists base their initial diagnosis. However, its clinical value in predicting male fertility or success with infertility treatment is limited, particularly if the semen analysis results are normal.

"The SpermComet test is so called because it looks just like a comet in the sky. The head of the 'comet' is undamaged DNA and the tail is damaged DNA. From the tail of the comet we can measure exactly the amount of damaged DNA in each individual sperm."

She added: "Good quality sperm DNA is closely associated with getting pregnant and having a healthy baby, and the SpermComet Test is the most sensitive test available for sperm DNA testing."

Prof Lewis, who has spent more than a decade researching the test, has set up a new company to market the test, which is already available through a number of fertility clinics in Glasgow, Dublin and Galway.

Panos Lioulias, chief executive of Queen's venture spin-out company QUBIS, said: "As the number of infertile couples across Europe continues to increase by around 5% each year, the need for such a test has never been greater.

"The SpermComet is the most sensitive test available to help clinics tailor treatment specifically to the man's needs, bringing hope to millions of couples across the globe."

© UTV News
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