In what is considered a breakthrough in fertility treatment, scientists at Mumbai’s National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH) have patented a sperm-quality test that is simple enough to be developed into a home kit.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has invited bids from private companies to produce it commercially.
The Resazurin Reduction Test (RRT) is more effective in assessing male fertility than the standard semen analysis which cannot evaluate functional competence of sperms. RRT also seeks to replace four advanced and very expensive diagnostic tools that assess sperm count, motility and quality. RRT, its developers hope, can be sold for Rs 100 per kit.
RRT is a dye test involving a coloured compound containing a sodium salt that functions as an oxidation reduction indicator. It is readily reduced — a specific chemical reaction involving transfer of electrons — by motile sperm. The reduction happens faster if the number of such sperms is high. Information from this single test is equal to the data from four advanced tests that take a week and cost about Rs 20,000. Also, these tests are not routinely done in any centre in India.
“There is no simple test available to test quality/count of sperm. We have found more than 90 per cent correlation between data obtained through our test and what is done by four existing tests,” said Dr K V R Reddy, head of NIRRH’s molecular immunology division. “The dye and colour card which users will need will be provided in the kit. We got the patent three months back and ICMR is now commercialising it.”