UK scientists develop 'his-and-hers' fertility test kit

Lausanne, Switzerland: UK scientists and doctors have developed the world's first 'his-and-hers' home fertility test kit - known as Fertell .

It is intended to measure natural levels of fertility in couples trying to conceive and serve as an early warning that there may be a problem.

The kit is the brainchild of the London medical devices company, Genosis, working with a research team from the University of Birmingham.

Details of the male test will be presented this afternoon (Monday 2 July) by Professor Christopher Barratt of the University of Birmingham, to the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Lausanne.

It enables men to measure the concentration of motile (active) sperm in their semen - the most predictive indicator of natural fertility.

The female test measures follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels as an indicator of ovarian reserve (the number of eggs in the ovary).

The prototypes of the two tests have already been tested on 118 men and 243 women and Genosis are currently scaling up production for clinical trials in the UK and the USA during the autumn. The kit should be available over the counter early next year.

The male test kit reproduces the temperature conditions of a woman's body. Sperm are deposited into a container. A button is pressed to release a column of artificial cervical mucus which is heated automatically to 37C. Only the motile sperm are able to swim through the mucus column to a point where they are automatically collected, tagged with gold-labelled antibodies and detected on a nitro-cellulose strip. If there are adequate numbers of sperm present and if they are sufficiently motile, the test will produce an easy-to-read red line. This appears when the semen sample has greater than 10 million motile sperm per ml - equivalent to the WHO guidelines for normality.

"It takes an established technology that is usually employed in the

Contact: Margaret Willson
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

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