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A good news: Researchers from Ruhr-Universitat Bochum have developed a non-invasive technique that within seconds can distinguish healthy fertile and infertile sperm cells. The research was published in the journal The Analyst, and it was also featured in Highlights in Chemical Biology and in the news section of Chemistry World of the Royal Society of Chemistry in May. The technique uses the method where spectral chemical fingerprint is collected and this way determines what sperm cells are healthy and which ones are not.

This revolutionary method has the potential for a novel fertility technology and a test scheme which does not only rely on morphological characteristics, but also utilizes chemical signatures. The researchers came up with interesting comparison that the nature has optimized the swimming function of sperm cells in a similar way to race cars. The faster the better. These race cars fuel that is called mitochondria I am using metaphors - mitochondria are the power stations of sperm motility and mobility we are talking about swimming fast and being a good swimmer, which is a crucial factor is terms of fertility.

This research was revolutionary in a sense of proving that cellular damage on a molecular level in mitochondria can be present although changes in form and morphology are not visible. This stresses that besides morphology, which is a strict criterion by the WHO Manual for Andrology Laboratories to classify human sperm fertility, it is now possible and necessary to improve the test criteria by incorporating chemical signatures. The scientists from Ruhr-Universitat Bochum obtained detailed 3D chemical maps which do not require the introduction of additional labels or markers but use spectral fingerprints of molecules based on their characteristic vibrations.

This enables the direct image of the chemical constituents of individual human sperm cells. This is a revolutionary discovery because the sperm count of human males around the world has dropped an alarming 50 per cent of what it was more than 50 years ago, so there is a justified reason to investigate male fertility. This discovery and it may contribute to the development of new standards for the classification of healthy fertile and damaged infertile human sperm cells.

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