Wednesday November 22, 2017

Smartphone-based Semen analyser can help men test Infertility in privacy and within the comfort of their home

In tests, the researchers found that the easy-to-use smartphone app and accessory analyses sperm concentration and motility with approximately 98 percent accuracy

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Smartphones
A Smartphone (representational Image), Pixabay

New York,  March 23, 2017: Researchers have developed a smartphone-based semen analyser that can help men test infertility in the privacy and comfort of their home, suggests new research.

In tests, the researchers found that the easy-to-use smartphone app and accessory analyses sperm concentration and motility with approximately 98 percent accuracy.

The research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, could offer men a potent weapon to fight infertility as a prevailing cultural and social stigma, and get round the lack of access to seeking an evaluation in resource-limited countries.

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“We wanted to come up with a solution to make male infertility testing as simple and affordable as home pregnancy tests,” said Hadi Shafiee from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, US.

“Men have to provide semen samples in these rooms at a hospital, a situation in which they often experience stress, embarrassment, pessimism and disappointment,” Shafiee pointed out.

More than 45 million couples worldwide grapple with infertility, but current standard methods for diagnosing male infertility can be expensive, labour-intensive and require testing in a clinical setting.

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“Current clinical tests are lab-based, time-consuming and subjective. This test is low-cost, quantitative, highly accurate and can analyse a video of an undiluted, unwashed semen sample in less than five seconds,” Shafiee added.

The analyser consists of an optical attachment that can connect to a smartphone and a disposable device onto which a semen sample can be loaded.

The new test utilises the advancements in consumer electronics and microfabrication.

A disposable microchip with a capillary tip and a rubber bulb is used for simple, power-free semen sample handling.

The team also designed a user-friendly smartphone application that guides the user through each step of testing, and a miniaturised weight scale that wirelessly connects to smartphones to measure total sperm count.

To evaluate the device, the research team collected and studied 350 clinical semen specimens at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Centre in Boston.

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Overall, the smartphone-based device was able to detect abnormal semen samples based on World Health Organisation (WHO) thresholds on sperm concentration and motility with an accuracy of 98 per cent.

“The ability to bring point-of-care sperm testing to the consumer, or health facilities with limited resources, is a true game changer,” co-author of the study John Petrozza, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Centre, said.

The smartphone-based analyser for semen analysis is currently in a prototyping stage. The researchers said that plan to perform additional tests and will file for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. (IANS)

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Checkpoint Protein (CHK2) Inhibitor Drug to Protect Women’s Infertility Post Cancer Treatments

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Sep 02, 2017: An existing drug may one day protect premenopausal women from infertility that commonly follows cancer treatments, new research has found.

Women who are treated for cancer with radiation or certain chemotherapy drugs are commonly rendered sterile.

Women are born with a lifetime reserve of oocytes, or immature eggs, but those oocytes are among the most sensitive cells in the body and may be wiped out by such cancer treatments.

The new findings, published in the journal Genetics, raises hope of curbing infertility from cancer treatment.

The study builds on his 2014 research that identified a so-called checkpoint protein (CHK2) that becomes activated when oocytes are damaged by radiation.

Checkpoint protein functions in a pathway that eliminates oocytes with DNA damage, a natural function to protect against giving birth to offspring bearing new mutations.

When the researchers irradiated mice lacking the CHK2 gene, the oocytes survived, eventually repaired the DNA damage, and the mice gave birth to healthy pups.

Also Read: Treatment with Uterine Fibroids helps to restore Fertility in Women

The new study explored whether the checkpoint 2 pathway could be chemically inhibited.

“It turns out there were pre-existing CHK2 inhibitor drugs that were developed, ironically enough, for cancer treatment, but they turned out not to be very useful for treating cancer,” said study senior author John Schimenti, Professor at Cornell University in New York.

“By giving mice the inhibitor drug, a small molecule, it essentially mimicked the knockout of the checkpoint gene,” first author Vera Rinaldi, a graduate student in Schimenti’s lab, said.

By inhibiting the checkpoint pathway, the oocytes were not killed by radiation and remained fertile, enabling birth of normal pups, the study said.

“While humans and mice have different physiologies, and there is much work to be done to determine safe and effective dosages for people, it is clear that we have the proof of principle for this approach,” Schimenti said. (IANS)

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Combining Religion and Science: Here’s How Hinduism comes up with a solution for Infertility!

According to studies, there has been a steady decline in sperm count by 48 percent since 1940

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pregnant woman, hinduism
Hinduism comes up with a solution for Infertility, Pixabay
  • According to studies, there has been a steady decline in sperm count by 48 percent since 1940
  • Temple worshipping and ‘Tapasya’ are well-known ancient methods to treat infertility
  • In a pre-feminist world, the burden of infertility fell solely upon the women folks

US, July 18, 2017: Clergy and representatives of various religious and spiritual traditions were invited to participate in a focus group in May, this year in Texas. On this particular occasion, Anjana Chatterjee and Dr. Deepak Kotecha shared their views about myths and misconception surrounding infertility.

According to studies, there has been a steady decline in sperm count by 48 percent since 1940. In ancient India, a woman’s worth was determined by her ability to bear and raise children. If found infertile, women were often burnt alive or outcasted and banished. Hinduism allows for a variety of responses when it comes to treating infertility.

Hinduism Practices and Beliefs 

Temple worshipping and ‘Tapasya’ are well-known ancient methods to treat infertility. Parvati or Uma is known as the Hindu goddess of fertility. Fertility symbols and fertility rituals are ingrained in the daily life of Hindus.

The worshiping of the girl child before she reached puberty is regarded as a celebration of female fertility. This is celebrated in its most virgin and purest state. Many other fertility symbols and rituals are deep seated in the daily life of Hindus, mentioned beliefnet.com.

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In a pre-feminist world, the burden of infertility fell solely upon the women folks. It was seen as a consequence of karmic factors more than biological factors. In the middle ages, the issue of infertility got strongly inter-mingled by religious factors. To eradicate infertility Hinduism has often resorted to ‘tantrism’ or esoteric practices.

Hinduism is a pluralistic system of values and customs. Over the ages, Hinduism has come to accept scientific medical treatment and assistance to deal with the rise of infertility. Vitro fertilization is considered acceptable if the sperm and egg are preferably not donated and is coming from any male family member. Hinduism has also a profound belief in the ayurvedic treatment, a very traditional method of treating sterility.

– prepared by Puja Sinha of NewsGram. Twitter @pujas1994

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

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Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)