Transforming semen separation to improve speed, accuracy, ease of use and to reduce operator error.

The progress of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) procedures has come into sharp focus as global infertility is on the rise. There is also a broadly held belief that there’s been a lack of innovation in andrology for the past 40 years. The male side of fertility has been the ‘forgotten half’ and has lagged for years compared to the female side. These issues are discussed and presented by Professor John Aitken in his book – The Infertility Trap (Cambridge University Press).

Against this backdrop of growing infertility, the Felix™ Device has been developed with several key objectives in mind. At the heart of this new technological approach is the application of electrophoresis and advanced membrane technology as a novel sperm separation system that seeks to improve speed, increase accuracy, enhance ease of use and reduce operator error.

Memphasys Ltd, a Sydney based reproductive biotechnology company, has partnered with Professor John Aitken, a renowned global leader in reproductive biology. Together they have established a new approach to developing better technology in order to improve the chance of life.

The result is the Felix™ System which features a user-friendly, automated device, utilising electrophoresis and membrane technology to gently separate sperm for ART procedures. The Felix™ Device for sperm separation only takes 6 minutes and is operator independent. For more information on the Felix™ Device see website.

Summary of the key aims of the Felix™ Device.

  • Greater efficiency: The Felix™ Device has been developed to efficiently isolate high quality spermatozoa directly from semen and ready for in vitro fertilisation in a matter of 6 minutes. Using traditional methods for sperm separation such as density gradient centrifugation (DGC) or swim up, the preparation time is typically around 45-60 minutes. In a busy clinic processing several samples per day, the rapid benefit of speed represents a reduction in staff time and costs. In terms of risk management, the single use cartridge minimises the risk of sample mislabelling.
  • Minimising sperm damage: The Felix™ Device aims to isolate the quality sperm without subjecting the cells to the damaging effects of centrifugation or exposing them to the potentially harmful extraneous reagents such as density gradient centrifugation media.
Villeneuve P, Saez F, Hug E, Chorfa A, Guiton R, Schubert B, Force A, Drevet JR. Spermatozoa isolation with Felix™ outperforms conventional density gradient centrifugation preparation in selecting cells with low DNA damage. Andrology 2023 Nov;11(8):1593-1604. doi: 10.1111/andr.13384.
Shapouri F, Mahendran T, Govindarajan M, Xie P, Kocur O, Palermo GD, Bakos HW, Ahlström A, Caisander G, Xu B, Bai S, Lambourne S, Aitken RJ. A comparison between the Felix™ electrophoretic system of sperm isolation and conventional density gradient centrifugation: a multicentre analysis. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2023 Jan;40(1):83-95. doi: 10.1007/s10815-022-02680-0
  • Gently effective: cryopreserved spermatozoa: The speed of the Felix™ System combined with the lack of physical shearing forces, creates a gentle sperm isolation environment. This allows the efficient recovery of spermatozoa that have been weakened by processes such as cryopreservation. These Felix™ isolated sperm populations are demonstrably superior to those isolated by alternative techniques according to their motility, vitality and levels of DNA damage.
Hungerford AJ, Bakos HW, Aitken RJ. Analysis of sperm separation protocols for isolating cryopreserved human spermatozoa. Reprod Fertil. 2023 May 2;4(2):e220133. doi: 10.1530/RAF-22-0133
  • Not solely dependent on motility: Unlike swim-up procedures and the microfluidics systems that have been developed to date, the Felix™ Device is not entirely reliant on sperm motility for its effectiveness; it can also achieve quality sperm isolation on the basis of electrophoretic mobility alone. As a result, the Felix™ System can be effective in isolating spermatozoa when these cells are not progressively motile or even immotile as in the case of cells recovered from testicular biopsies, snap frozen spermatozoa or cases of severe asthenozoospermia.
Ainsworth C, Nixon B, Jansen RP, Aitken RJ. First recorded pregnancy and normal birth after ICSI using electrophoretically isolated spermatozoa. Hum Reprod. 2007 Jan;22(1):197-200. doi: 10.1093/humrep/del351
  • Health and wellbeing of the offspring: Because the Felix™ Device isolates spermatozoa with a minimum of DNA damage there will be consequences in terms of the viability and quality of the embryo. Low levels of sperm DNA damage are associated with a reduced risk of miscarriage and a reduced incidence of genetic and epigenetic abnormalities in the embryo. As a matter of best practice, as well as minimising professional risk, clinicians should be following procedures that will ensure optimal viability and normality on the part of the offspring.
Aitken RJ, Lewis SEM. DNA damage in testicular germ cells and spermatozoa. When and how is it induced? How should we measure it? What does it mean? Andrology. 2023 Nov;11(8):1545-1557. doi: 10.1111/andr.13375
Aitken RJ. Role of sperm DNA damage in creating de-novo mutations in human offspring: the ‘post-meiotic oocyte collusion’ hypothesis. Reprod Biomed Online. 2022 Jul;45(1):109-124. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2022.03.012. Epub 2022 Mar 17. PMID: 35513995.