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Diamond Petri Dishes Promote Sperm Viability for IVF
February 28, 2013
A study published in the journal Online Proceedings Library of the Materials Research Society says Petri dishes made of diamond, rather than polystyrene, promote better sperm viability.
The data suggests that in vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates could improve using a more stable material than the plastic traditionally used to create the dishes.
Dr. Andrei Sommer, lead investigator on the study, and his team tested four Petri dishes: one made of hard polystyrene and three made of purified glass. One of the glass dishes was left uncoated, one was sandblasted and coated with synthetic diamond, and one was left smooth and coated with diamond. Sperm was placed in each dish in a standard IVF medium. After 42 hours, the sperm was examined. Fifty-two percent of sperm cells survived in the polystyrene dish, 60 percent survived in the uncoated glass, 64 percent survived in the sandblasted diamond dish, and 74 percent survived in the smooth diamond dish.
Sommer and his team discovered that the top layer of polystyrene softens when exposed to water-based substances, i.e. the IVF medium containing sperm. As the top layer of polystyrene breaks down, it releases a layer of reactive oxygen species which can damage sperm, eggs, and embryos.
Further research is required to determine how quickly this reaction occurs and the degree of damage it might cause eggs, sperm, and embryos. During the traditional IVF process, sperm and eggs are placed in the Petri dish and fertilization typically occurs during the first 12 hours.