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Hey, Anyone Seen a Sperm Bike?
With sperm bikes and fertility chips, sperm is high profile in the news this week.
Sperm on Board
First, Seattle residents may be surprised to see a 110-pound "sperm" cycling around town. The city has debuted a high profile "sperm bike," to make deliveries from a sperm bank to fertility clinics.
The sperm bike first appeared in the bike-friendly city of Copenhagen, Denmark, home of The European Sperm Bank. the sperm bank used the custom-designed bike with a cooling system built inside the "sperm head" to deliver sperm to fertility clinics in an environmentally friendly way. one of the largest in Europe. The European Sperm Bank's Seattle lab worked with Portland's Splendid Cycles and Antimatter.com to build the sperm structure, which is constructed of Jesmonite on top of a Bullitt cargo bike. The bike is 9 1/2 feet long with the tail and weighs about 110 pounds fully loaded. The Seattle version also includes a small electrical motor to give riders a boost on Seattle's many hills.
Gary Olsen of Seattle Sperm Bank told the Seattle Post Intelligencer: "It's getting a lot of looks. People are stopping. They don't quite understand what's going on. You put a giant sperm on a bike, and you're going to get some attention."
The deliveries from Seattle Sperm Bank are taken to Pacific Northwest Fertility & IVF Specialists.
Looking for more fertility information in Seattle? Click here for our Seattle Fertility Guide.
Fertility Chip Measures Concentration and Motility of Sperm
In other innovation from Northern Europe, Loes Segerink, a researcher at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, has developed a "fertility chip" that can accurately count sperm and measure their motility. The chip can be inserted into a compact device for use with a home test kit, so men can test their sperm in a familiar environment.
The fertility standard for sperm is that one millilitre of ejaculate should contain at least 20 million sperm, with a second important aspect of fertility being motility, the ability of sperm to swim properly toward an egg. the at=home tests that are currently available indicate whether concentration is "above or below the standard value" and do not give accurate concentration readings. With the fertility chip, the sperm flow through a liquid-filled channel beneath electrode "bridges," creating a brief fluctuation in the electrical resistance, and these events are counted. The chip also can be adjusted to sort motile sperm from non-motile sperm, so both can be counted separately.
Segerink received a Valorisation Grant as a first step towards establishing a company, which will provide her with a platform for refining the fertility chip and its accompanying read-out device into a market-ready product.
*Schematic drawing of the fertility chip with fluid channels and electrodes. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Twente)