Startup company Spermosens is developing an analytical technology which, right from the start, will help guide more involuntarily childless couples to the right method for assisted reproduction. A patent application has been submitted for the technology. About 15 percent of all couples of childbearing age around the world are affected. Now Spermosens aims to commercialize its technology and has been admitted to SmiLe Incubator at Medicon Village in Lund to accomplish this goal.
Currently, no analytical method is available that can confirm whether the male partner’s sperm is able to fertilize the egg cell. Sperm cells are currently tested only for their physical properties (such as motility and appearance), which in no way demonstrates the fertilization potential of the sperm. It has also been established that in half of all cases, involuntary childlessness is due to male infertility.
If an analytical method that predicts the egg cell binding potential of sperm were to become commercially available, more childless couples could be helped through In Vitro Fertilization, especially since the number of IVF clinics worldwide is limited (only about 3,500 clinics).
The founder of Spermosens, Kushagr Punyani, has developed an analytical technology that could solve this problem. The company has developed a prototype instrument with a “chip” where the specific biochemical reactions occur that can rapidly provide the analytical results. The company will soon begin clinical trials. The technology was developed after the 2018 discovery of the presence of the JUNO egg cell protein in humans. Spermosens’ JUNO-CHECKED uses nano-biotechnology and electrochemistry to predict the ability of the sperm to fertilize the egg cell. The analysis is automated and tales less than 30 minutes.
Doctors would immediately receive an indication regarding which of the two IVF treatments is more appropriate – standard IVF, in which sperm cells and egg cells come into contact and fertilization occurs naturally, or the invasive Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), in which a sperm cell is injected directly into the egg. Spermosens’ technology will be able to show whether binding occurs between sperm and egg cell proteins, in which case standard IVF can be used, or if binding fails to occur, ICSI. This technology could potentially reduce the number of failed attempts, thereby shortening waiting times and enabling more couples to get effective help from right the start.
The market is enormous: all activity within IVF is estimated at about USD 37 billion by 2027. Spermosens expects to be fully commercially focused on this endeavor by 2022, according to the company’s CEO John Lempert.
“Despite the high level of expertise in our talented team, we realize that this is not sufficient for commercial success. We need the support of skilled coaches and others. That’s why we’re thrilled to be members of SmiLe. Ultimately, it is impossible to guess what the market demands, without first learning about the market, and this is where we need help from SmiLe,” says John Lempert.
For information about SmiLe Incubator, please contact: Ebba Fåhraeus, CEO of SmiLe Incubation, +46 734000433
For more information about Spermosens, please conctact: John Lempert, CEO of Spermosens, +46 763114091
SmiLe Incubator is a life science business incubator based in Medicon Village in Lund. SmiLe helps entrepreneurs to commercialize their ideas. There are currently more than 20 companies in SmiLe, which together with alumni companies, have attracted more than EUR 280 million in venture capital to date since 2014. SmiLe offers business coaching, a large network of contacts and a dynamic community, as well as well-equipped laboratories which is unique of its kind in Sweden. SmiLe is a non-profit organization and receives basic funding from Region Skåne, Lund Municipality, Lund University and Medicon Village. SmiLe´s sponsors are Agilent, Sparbanken Skåne, Awa, Høiberg, Prevas, Setterwalls, Zacco, Aqilion. SmiLe’s listed alumni companies have a market capitalization of almost EUR 750 million (Q4 2019). www.smileincubator.life