A Spanish startup has successfully designed a robot that can fertilize eggs by itself, according to the MIT Technology Review.
The Barcelona-based startup Overture Life engineered a device that could fertilize at least 12 eggs with a robotic needle, according to a Tuesday report in the MIT Technology Review. An engineer fertilized the eggs by moving the needle with a PlayStation 5 controller. The fertilization led to the birth of two girls, who researchers say were the first people born from robotic fertilization, according to the magazine.
Overture hopes to someday build a one-stop-shop device for in vitro fertilization (IVF), the company’s chief innovation officer, Santiago Munné, told the Review. “Think of a box where sperm and eggs go in, and an embryo comes out five days later,” he said.
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Although many startups have entered the IVF space in recent years, Overture has allegedly been the most successful in raising capital for its research. The company has brought in over $37 million from a number of investors, including former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, the Review reported.
Some argue there is a long way to go before the company is able to streamline a robotic fertilization process, according to the magazine. Weill Cornell Medical Center fertility doctor Gianpiero Palermo told the Review the “concept is extraordinary, but this is a baby step.”
Jeremy Thompson, an Australian embryologist and professor at the University of Adelaide, argued IVF has remained a manual process because people are hesitant to trust an embryo to a device “where it could get trapped or harmed by something as tiny as an air bubble,” according to the magazine.
Roughly 500,000 babies are born through IVF yearly, CNN reported in 2018, citing a presentation from the International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies.