Presentation Authors: Alex Jafek*, Haidong Feng, Timothy Jenkins, Kenneth Aston, Douglas Carrell, Bruce Gale, Raheel Samuel, Jim Hotaling, Salt Lake City, UT
Introduction: Microdissection TESE (mTESE) is currently the gold standard for sperm retrieval in men with non-obstructive azoospermia. Currently, the procedure relies on an embryologist manually searching for sperm for 4-12 hours. We sought to determine whether a novel microfluidic device could purify mTESE samples prior to sperm retrieval from tissue specimens. The goal was to determine if the device could remove all contaminating debris without loss of sperm and reduce the sample volume using a novel microfluidic device.
Methods: Participants were recruited from our Andrology clinic and were required to adhere to standard collection instructions. We simulated mTESE samples using a combination of washed sperm cells at low concentrations and somatic cells. These simulated mTESE samples were processed through a microfluidic spiral channel device which employs Dean flow to create a morphology-based separation between sperm and other cell types. The output of the device was sorted in to four portions of equal volume which were individually counted for sperm and blood cell concentration.
Results: Our results indicate that our microfluidic device is capable of improving the search by both removing contaminating debris and reducing the sample volume. In a single pass of the spiral channel, the vast majority of somatic cells are sorted to a single outlet of the device away from the sperm. Our results show that the volume can be reduced by 25% while removing 68% of the blood cells in the sample. This is done while 98% of the sperm are retained in the selected portion as shown in Figure 1.
Conclusions: Our microfluidic device is capable of significantly improving the search for sperm from mTESE samples by removing 25% of the sample volume and 68% of the blood cells while retaining 98% of the sperm. We hypothesize that providing a smaller, cleaner sample to embryologists will allow them to be more successful in their search for sperm in a testicular biopsy sample and are currently working to acquire the samples and data necessary to prove this.
Source of Funding: This work was funded by an NSF SBIR grant.