Memphasys’ early cell separation research to separate viable red blood cells from human buffy coat using its prototype MF10 instrument caught the interest of Professor John Aitken, an international leader in reproductive biology at the University of Newcastle (Australia), who sought a collaboration with Memphasys to evaluate a modified MF10 instrument (CS10) for sperm separation from semen samples.
Professor Aitken investigated the efficacy of isolating sperm cells from various human semen samples (eg. fresh semen, sperm extracted by testicular biopsy, cryopreserved semen and snap-frozen sperm). The publication of his results generated wide interest in this new sperm separation technology. Memphasys and Prof Aitken are now conducting further in-vitro clinical trials in Australian IVF centres with the recently engineered next-generation 'Felix' device.
Prof Aitken is chair of Memphasys’ Scientific Advisory Committee.
Over the past 10 years Memphasys has built considerable expertise in making membranes with very consistent pore sizes, ranging from 5 kDa up to 1000 kDa. Until recently this work has used polyacrylamide hydrogel polymer. However, polyacrylamide membranes have two problems for large scale commercial use:
a) acrylamide is a toxic substance, and so in biological applications there is the requirement that any unpolymerised acrylamide residue after the manufacture of the membranes is reduced to very low levels (ppb), and
(b) the polyacrylamide membrane production process needs to be carried out in nitrogen atmosphere, making scale up more complex and expensive.
In the past two years Memphasys has developed a new hydrogel polymer membrane material that is biocompatible and able to be made under normal atmospheric conditions. Further refinement of this polymer formulation and its production into membranes has been carried out in partnership with the University of Melbourne’s Membranes research group in the Chemical Engineering faculty.
In the past several lab instruments were developed by Memphasys that enabled the use of sets of its polyacrylamide membranes for research work in the separation of various types of cells and proteins (MF-10, CS-10,BF400).
The product development program for the next generation biological fluid separation devices will include as a second priority the development of a new research lab instrument that will allow researchers to use Memphasys' new membranes to investigate other biological separation applications that will lead to additional commercial opportunities for Memphasys.
To date Memphasys has successfully followed this research model which has led to the development of technologies for sperm separation, and to the development of its earlier polyacrylamide technology for separating components from plasma.