US-based epigenetic data company Episona has launched its new male fertility test, Seed, at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Scientific Congress & Expo.
Seed evaluates epigenetic changes in DNA to predict the risk for male factor infertility and poor embryo development, offering physicians and their patients a new tool for personalising fertility treatment and boosting the chances of pregnancy quickly and cost effectively.
Episona president and CEO Alan Horsager said: “Physicians have long relied on the traditional semen analysis as the sole option for determining the male’s role in fertility.
“Seed provides patients with previously missing information about their fertility and we believe this has the potential to transform fertility care.”
“While semen analyses provide valuable information on sperm count, motility and morphology, they offer little insight into the more complex factors related to male fertility or into the male’s role in embryo development.
“By combining the latest advances in science and technology, Seed provides patients with previously missing information about their fertility and we believe this has the potential to transform fertility care.”
The new male fertility test is based on the science of epigenetics which involves the assessment of external or environmental factors such as aging, smoking, obesity, environmental exposure and exercise that can change the layer on top of the DNA known as the epigenome.
These DNA modifications alter the gene expressions, or read, which in turn can impact how genes function.
Episona specifically focuses on DNA methylation on the epigenome by examining the differences in methylation between known fertile sperm DNA and infertile sperm DNA.
Seed uses Illumina’s microarrays to analyse more than 480,000 regions on sperm DNA for abnormal methylation at different gene sites, considered important for fertility.
A relative risk is then assigned to each abnormal location for either male factor infertility or poor embryo development.