Halosperm® is an in vitro diagnostic kit that allows the measurement of DNA fragmentation in a fast, easy, and reproducible manner, without the need for complex laboratory equipment. Halosperm® allows for an improved evaluation of sperm quality, complementing the information offered by the conventional sperm analysis. Conventional semen analysis only studies spermatozoa concentration, motility and morphology. It is an incomplete study, as it omits analysis of one of the most important parameters, the integrity of the DNA molecule. 15% of men considered to be infertile present normal sperm analyses, which makes a deeper assessment of the sample important. Halosperm® facilitates decision-making for medical professionals regarding which assisted reproduction technique is most appropriate for each couple.
The demand for semen studies and the use of assisted-reproduction techniques (artificial insemination, IVF, ICSI, etc.) have undergone dramatic growth.
This can be seen in the notable increase in the number of assisted-reproduction services and clinics in both the public and private spheres.
Routine semen analyses work by determining the concentration, morphology and motility of the sperm and are supplemented with certain functional tests, as well as the assessment of biochemical and seminal enzyme parameters (WHO, 1999).
Despite routine “screening,” it is impossible to determine the cause of infertility in around 30-50% of infertile males, a condition labelled as unexplained or idiopathic infertility.
Halosperm® is based on the SCD technique, patented by Halotech, based on a controlled DNA denaturation process to facilitate the subsequent removal of the proteins contained in each spermatozoon. In this way, normal spermatozoa create halos formed by loops of DNA at the head of the sperm, which are not present in those with damaged DNA.
The images of halos generated with Halosperm® are highly contrasted and can be evaluated precisely using conventional or fluorescent microscopy. The tails of the spermatozoa are preserved, so it is possible to discriminate them from other cell types that might be present in the ejaculate, such as leukocytes. In addition, Halosperm® allows the visualisation of spermatozoa that contain highly degraded DNA compared to other types of less aggressive damage. This fact is of great importance in the diagnosis and monitoring of varicocele.
Medical professionals use information from Halotech solutions at the start of treatment, supplementing conventional semen analysis. Sperm DNA damage is a multifactorial process. Because it can have multiple causes, fragmentation, oxidation, and vitality analysis is especially recommended for:
- Couples with a history of miscarriages.
- Couples with unexplained infertility for more than 6 months
- Men older than 40
- Use of tight-fitting clothing
- Men with a history of cancer
- Men under treatment with prescription medications
- Men exposed to toxic agents
- Men who have had urogenital infections
- Men with unhealthy lifestyle habits: those who smoke, are sedentary, have an unbalanced diet or are obese.
- Poor quality of the embryo during second cycles of egg donation
- Male factor of unknown cause
Natural factors like improper maturation or oxidative stress translate into failures during the production of spermatozoa in the testicle.