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Vimentin3-based fertility diagnosis

Country of Origin: Germany
Reference Number: TODE20170929001
Publication Date: 29 September 2017


A German university hospital is developing a diagnostic test using Vimentin 3 as a new marker for proof of sperm quality. This ensures more reliable results than manual analysis. Furthermore the development could lead to home-based testing whereas today tests can only be carried out by certified laboratories.  Industrial licensees are sought.


Infertility affects an estimated 15 percent of couples globally. Fourty percent of these cases are linked to men. An important factor of male infertility is an insufficient quality of sperms due to abnormal shape and/or motility.

Currently, the quality of the sperm cells is assessed in a spermiogram, analyzing their morphology, concentration and motility. However, the results may vary due to manual analysis, so that the test must be repeated at least twice. In addition, spermiograms need to be performed by certified laboratories and accordingly educated persons. Therefore, there is a strong need for more reliable and standardized diagnostic methods for the assessment of sperm quality.

Researchers of a German university hospital have identified Vimentin 3 (Vim3) as a novel marker for the diagnosis of sperm quality: the expression of Vim3 is significantly higher in ejaculates from persons with normozoo-spermia, whereas in ejaculates from patients with oligo-astheno-teratozoo-spermia (OAT) syndrome and azoo-spermia the expression of Vim3 is significantly decreased (please see figure). Furthermore, in OAT syndrome cells, staining is less intensive but is also found in the head and tail region, as compared to a predominant staining of neck region in normal sperm cells. An additional advantage of the invention is the fact that conventional spermiograms can only be performed with ejaculates not older than one hour, which requires the patients to show up in the laboratory and thus increases psychological pressure. Vim3 staining may offer access to sperm quality analysis of ejaculates won at home or maybe even home-based test systems.

Assessment of fertility and sperm quality is not only important in humans, but also applies to veterinary medicine in terms of horse and other animal breeding.
Thus industrial partners dealing with fertility in humans as well as in animals are sought for licensing agreements. This could include further development tasks to finalise the testing technology.

Advantages and Innovations

New method with significant advantages  as Vim3 staining of sperm cells works as an easy and reliable initial test for sperm quality:
• Vim3 staining overcomes variations of manually assessed sperm morphology and motility in spermiograms
• May be offered as test to be performed at home and may thus find higher compliance than current lab-based sperm analysis

Stage Of Development

Under development/lab tested

Stage Of Development Comment

The researchers plan to conduct a large study for the verification of usability.

Requested partner

The technology is offered for licensing and further development as diagonstic test to industrial partners dealing with human fertility tests or livestock breeding.

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