Engineers from Barcelona, Spain, created a “sperm-injecting robot” that fertilized more than a dozen eggs successfully, resulting in the birth of “two twin girls” as a significant breakthrough in the field of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
According to a review from MIT University, the technology was developed by a company called “Overture Life,” which claims their device is the first step toward automating IVF. The company claimed that this innovation will make IVF more affordable and accessible to those who require it but cannot afford it.
IVF is a fertility treatment that entails fertilizing an egg outside of the uterus with sperm and then implanting the fertilized egg back into the uterus. Many individuals who require IVF are unable to obtain it due to financial or logistical barriers, despite the fact that this treatment has aided produce 5 million babies annually worldwide.
Overture Life believes that their technology will increase access to fertility medicine, resulting in an increase in the number of IVF births.
How did things go?
The sperm-injecting robot designed by engineers was packaged and shipped to New Hope Fertility Centre in New York City. Here, they reassembled the instrument, assembling a microscope, a mechanized needle, a miniature petri dish, and a laptop computer.
One of the engineers with no prior knowledge of fertility medicine used a “Sony PlayStation 5 controller” – sure! To position a robotic needle, you read that accurately. After observing a human egg with a camera, the sperm moved independently, penetrating the egg and discharging a single sperm cell.
According to the researchers, the procedures resulted in the production of healthy embryos, as well as the birth of two newborn girls, who they claim are the first individuals to be born after being fertilized by a “robot.”
“I was serene. At that precise moment, I thought, ‘It’s just another experiment,'” said Eduard Alba, the mechanical engineering student who commanded the sperm-injecting apparatus.
What exactly is infertility?
The World Health Organization defines infertility as “a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a medical advancement that enables infertile couples to conceive, providing them with the opportunity to become parents. The process includes stimulation, also known as hyper ovulation, egg retrieval, insemination and fertilization, embryo culture, and embryo transfer.
What are the questions?
According to a fertility specialist quoted in the MIT review, “the concept is extraordinary, but this is only a baby step.” In the 1990s, he is credited with devising the intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) method of fertilization. Additionally, the doctor stated that Overture’s researchers still required manual assistance for duties such as loading sperm cells onto an injector needle. “This is not yet robotic ICSI, in my opinion,” he explained.