Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Utkan Demirci answered questions about the "microchip" technology they developed for infertility treatment.
prof. Dr. Demirci said that they have been focusing on technologies for infertility treatment for the last 5 years and that they have been working to produce solutions for the problem.
Stating that according to the data of the World Health Organization, the number of sperm that a man with reproductive ability should have per milliliter is reduced to 15 million, Demirci said, “This is one of the most important problems of the world, which shows that the human race has started to become infertile. At the same time, people's starting careers, getting married late, and having children later as a result also affect this. As people age, the rate of infertility increases. Especially in male infertility, this problem is more common and 30-50% of the problem in infertile couples is due to male infertility.
“Best cells are separated with microchip”
Pointing out that they started to look for answers to the parameters that are not well defined in male infertility in their studies, Demirci continued his words as follows:
“With the 'microchip' technology we developed, we looked at how sperm, the fastest moving cells of the human body, swim. They run a marathon for 5 to 7 days on their journey to the egg. It passes through very narrow channels and is in an acidic environment. This is a path to the elimination of millions of sperm, where only one of them wins the race, fertilizes the egg to form an embryo, and a successful pregnancy and child. We tried to understand the mechanics of this challenging track. We took the microchannels, tried to imitate them in a plastic device similar to their natural environment. When the sperm cells we put at the beginning of the canal reach the end of the canal, they are separated as those who can't swim, those who can't swim, and those who are halfway through. Only very good swimmer cells with near-zero DNA fragmentation remain. After all, these are the ones who have a chance to win the race in the womb. By introducing a very functional system, we replaced the sperm selection system made in huge machines called 'centrifuge' with a tiny chip. There are nearly 10 thousand babies born with this technology in Turkey.”
“We made the first productization in Turkey”
Demirci emphasized that the sperms were selected after being placed in a "centrifuge" and passed through various stages, and that the cells were damaged during this time.
Expressing that they have developed a solution with a microchip by understanding the physics of the natural environment by eliminating the system that damages cells, Demirci said that they made the first productization of the system in Turkey.
prof. Dr. Demirci said, “We initially did this at Ege University under the KOSGEB project. Now it continues as a production area at 9 Eylül University. This both creates a workforce and offers the opportunity to export the chips we produce to many countries, including Russia, America and European Union countries. There are nearly 10 thousand babies born with this technology in Turkey. Not to mention what happened in Europe and America. The article on this technology was published in 2011. We got the 'CE' approval for producting 4 years ago. With this technology, I predict that it will become the gold standard in 5 to 10 years by replacing the system made in huge machines, which I have described as centrifuges, with a tiny chip.”
“Infertility is passed on from generation to generation”
prof. Dr. Demirci stated that infertility may have a genetic dimension as well as environmental factors. Demirci drew attention to the negative effects of environmental factors, especially in male infertility.
Emphasizing that those who are considering having a child should eat regularly and prepare 6 months in advance, Demirci gave the following information:
“Because the formation of sperm is a process that takes 6 months. In other words, it should be a detox that started 6 months ago, not what you ate yesterday, so that there are no negative environmental factors in the process from stem cells to sperm formation. Negative factors such as air pollution, cigarettes and alcohol cause changes in the sperm and egg not only genetically but also epigenetically, that is, not only damaging the current cell, but also affecting the children to be born later. These are epigenetically passed on to the next generation. Stress is also included in these negative factors.”