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Sticky Sperm May Boost IVF Conception Rates

Update Date: Oct 29, 2013 12:58 PM EDT

Sticky sperm may help couples undergoing IVF conceive, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Leeds are piloting a new IVF method that uses only mature and fertile sperm that sticks to a specially coated plate for injection into the egg. Researchers said that coating is made of hyaluronan, which is frequently used as a lubricant to ease joints in the knee and in beauty products like face creams.

"It is fascinating that a substance with such strong lubricating properties should be sticky for some, but not all, sperm. We think that this paradoxical property is what gives only mature and healthy sperm with little or no DNA damage the ability to latch on to the coat that surrounds the egg," researcher Dr. David Miller, of the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Leeds, said in a news release.

Currently, three out of four IVF treatment cycles for couples end in failure. The latest clinical trial will test this new method in the assisted conception clinic by comparing it with existing methods of sperm selection. Researchers will also examine whether this new selection method based on sperm stickiness works by minimizing the risk of injecting a sperm carrying damaged DNA into the egg.

Researchers hope to recruit 3,700 couples from 14 assisted conception units in the United Kingdom. 

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