Sperm Storage Techniques in the Future

With the introduction of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), patients with severe cases of male factor can father children today. For cases of azoospermia (no sperm in the ejaculate), Dr. Bastuba extract sperm surgically from the epididymus or from tissue removed from the testis. In order to avoid additional tissue-damaging sperm extractions in the future, the goal is to retrieve as much sperm as possible during the procedure and to store obtained sperm as save as possible. Since the retrieved sperm in a case of azoospermia is very valuable, research is looking at techniques to aid recovery of sperm after undergoing cryopreservation.

A successful method was found in freezing sperm in small numbers using the membranes of egg cells (zona pellucida). However, the usage of egg cells is very expensive and increases the risk of an acrosome reaction. These disadvantages are not present when sperm is injected in small colonies of algae called volvox globator for cryopreservation. Research showed that sperm stored in volvox has an excellent survival rate.

Dr. Bastuba agrees that once approved by the FDA, this might be an excellent sperm storage tool when only small quantities of sperm are recovered for fertility treatment.