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posted by hubie on Thursday April 27 2023, @11:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the factory-grown-babies dept.

Meet the startups trying to engineer a desktop fertility machine:

Last spring, engineers in Barcelona packed up the sperm-injecting robot they'd designed and sent it by DHL to New York City. They followed it to a clinic there, called New Hope Fertility Center, where they put the instrument back together, assembling a microscope, a mechanized needle, a tiny petri dish, and a laptop.

Then one of the engineers, with no real experience in fertility medicine, used a Sony PlayStation 5 controller to position a robotic needle. Eyeing a human egg through a camera, it then moved forward on its own, penetrating the egg and dropping off a single sperm cell. Altogether, the robot was used to fertilize more than a dozen eggs.

The result of the procedures, say the researchers, were healthy embryos—and now two baby girls, who they claim are the first people born after fertilization by a "robot."

[...] The startup company that developed the robot, Overture Life, says its device is an initial step toward automating in vitro fertilization, or IVF, and potentially making the procedure less expensive and far more common than it is today.

[...] The main goal of automating IVF, say entrepreneurs, is simple: it's to make a lot more babies. About 500,000 children are born through IVF globally each year, but most people who need help having kids don't have access to fertility medicine or can't pay for it.

"How do we go from half a million babies a year to 30 million?'" wonders David Sable, a former fertility doctor who now runs an investment fund. "You can't if you run each lab like a bespoke, artisanal kitchen, and that is the challenge facing IVF. It's been 40 years of outstanding science and really mediocre systems engineering."

[...] For some proponents of IVF automation, an even wilder future awaits. By giving over conception to machines, automation could speed the introduction of still-controversial techniques such as genome editing, or advanced methods of creating eggs from stem cells.

Although Munné says Overture Life has no plans to modify the genetic makeup of children, he allows it would be a simple matter to use the sperm-injecting robot for that purpose, since it could dispense precise amounts of gene-editing chemicals into an egg. "It should be very easy to add to the machine," he says.

Even more speculative technology is on the horizon. Fertility machines could gradually evolve into artificial wombs, with children gestated in scientific centers until birth. "I do believe we are going to get there," says Thompson. "There is credible evidence that what we thought was impossible is not so impossible."

Others imagine that robots could eventually be shot into outer space, stocked with eggs and sperm held in a glassy state of stasis. After a thousand-year journey to a distant planet, such machines might boot up and create a new society of humans.

It's all part of the goal of creating more people, and not just here on Earth. "There are people thinking that humankind should be an interplanetary species, and human lifetimes are not going to be enough to reach out to these worlds," says Chavez-Badiola. "Part of the job of a scientist is to keep dreaming."


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High Mobile Phone Use May Impact Sperm Count 28 comments

High mobile phone use may impact sperm count, study says

Male sperm count has fallen by more than 50% globally in the last 50 years, leaving researchers scrambling to understand why. Could it be pollution, PFAS and other potential toxins in our food and water, an increase in obesity and chronic disease, or even the ever-present mobile phone?

A new study explored the role of cell phones and found men between the ages of 18 and 22 who said they used their phones more than 20 times a day had a 21% higher risk for a low overall sperm count. The men also had a 30% higher risk for a low sperm concentration, a less important measure of sperm count in a milliliter of semen. The study did not specify whether the men called or texted or used their phones to do both.

[...] "I am intrigued by the observation that the biggest effect was apparently seen with older 2G and 3G phones compared to modern 4G and 5G versions. This is not something I am able to explain," said Allan Pacey, deputy vice president and deputy dean of the faculty of biology, medicine and health at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, in a statement. He was not involved in the study.

[...] Results showed that men who used their phones one to five times a day or less than once a week had much higher sperm counts and concentration. As cell phone usage climbed, sperm count dropped, with the lowest levels among men using their phone 20 or more times a day.

Tin foil underwear is an excellent and high fashion accessory to go with tin foil hats.

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 28 2023, @01:18AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 28 2023, @01:18AM (#1303541)

    Breeding humans even more dependent on machines?

    It's all part of the goal of creating more people, and not just here on Earth. "There are people thinking that humankind should be an interplanetary species, and human lifetimes are not going to be enough to reach out to these worlds," says Chavez-Badiola. "Part of the job of a scientist is to keep dreaming."

    1) There are already 8 billion people on Earth. See also: https://www.overshootday.org/ [overshootday.org]

    2) So your plan is to send eggs and sperm to different star systems and produce orphans? Sounds like you're trying to create more nightmares instead of dreams.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 28 2023, @02:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 28 2023, @02:18AM (#1303550)

      2) It's probably what has to be done if "we" want humans to exist a million years from now. Nightmares are business as usual, see inequality and bad luck.

    • (Score: 1, Troll) by Tork on Friday April 28 2023, @02:57AM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 28 2023, @02:57AM (#1303555)
      1. Irrelevant.

      2. It's weird that you landed there.

      I know you're gonna argue with me so I'll cut to the chase: There's developing/perfecting tech and there's using tech. The article is about one but you're reading it like it's about both.
      --
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Friday April 28 2023, @01:40AM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 28 2023, @01:40AM (#1303546) Journal

    LOL

  • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by anubi on Friday April 28 2023, @06:28AM (3 children)

    by anubi (2828) on Friday April 28 2023, @06:28AM (#1303576) Journal

    He had a tool he could load with bull juice.

    And do his cows, sans bull.

    Yup, got a calf out of it, but also "freshened" the cow, resetting it's milk-making capacity.

    "Artificial Insemination".

    You don't need your own bull. Just choose which juice you want her shot up with. Selective breeding.

    --
    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 2) by quietus on Friday April 28 2023, @05:27PM (2 children)

      by quietus (6328) on Friday April 28 2023, @05:27PM (#1303673) Journal

      There's currently a case/scandal going on here (the Low Countries) where it was discovered that a single sperm donor gave rise to more than 600 babies in a 5 year time span. Judge ordered him to keep his pecker out of fertility clinics, or pay a 100,000 euro fine with each donation. Only now it's realized that it might not be a bad idea to set up a central donor registry, and put a maximum limit to the number of children with the same sperm donor (5).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 29 2023, @10:56AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 29 2023, @10:56AM (#1303877)

        I can see a case for it if his sperm/genes are provably crap e.g. congenital diseases, STDs etc.

        But if not why ban him? I thought "everyone" keeps saying that DNA doesn't make a difference, all races are the same, IQ is not linked to genes, etc etc.

        So if it's really not a big deal, if there's no big genetic problems with this guy's DNA why should he be banned?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 29 2023, @09:28PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 29 2023, @09:28PM (#1303959)

          Americans in the Southern states agree with you, where fucking your sister is widely accepted.

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