MicroSort® is a form of sex selection. It is done by taking a sperm sample and separating out the girl sperm from the boy sperm.
In general any sperm sample should be about 50% girl sperm and 50% boy sperm. The intent of the MicroSort® process is to increase that percentage. It is not possible at this point to have a 100 pure sample of either male or female sperm.
The sperm sample is run through a flow cytometer to separate the female and male sperm. This is possible because the female sperm (X) have about 3 more DNA material than the male sperm (Y). The purity of the sperm sample is then measured using a process for DNA analysis known as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on an unused portion of the sample. By attaching DNA probes to either the X or Y bearing sperm, the tagged DNA can be counted because it will emit a certain color when viewed under a microscope.
Once the sample is sorted, it will then be put inside the woman's body, typically in a process known as intrauterine insemination (IUI), also done as am infertility procedure for some women. This means that the sperm sample is taken when the woman is about to ovulate, so that the IUI can happen quickly, after the sorting of the sperm.
The use of sorted sperm can also be done using in vitro fertilization (IVF). One of the benefits of doing IVF, even if you have normal fertility, is that you may be able to use a local collaborator and not have to travel to the GIVF Fertility Centers in Virginia or California, as you would currently have to do to use a fresh cycle of IUI.
MicroSort® can also be used in combination with other procedures like intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and even preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). These procedures cost more, but increase the likelihood that the sex selection is accurate.
Currently the sex selection for boys yields about a 73 pure sample, with 76 of the Ysort babies being boys and the sex selection for girls provides about an 88 pure sample, with 91 of the MicroSort® Xsort babies being girls.
MicroSort® can be done for family balancing or sex linked genetic disorders. It is currently finishing clinical trials overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). More than 1,000 pregnancies have occurred using MicroSort® and more than 800 babies have been born.
The cost of MicroSort® depends on which option you choose and where you go for treatment. A basic IUI cycle in Virginia was about $4,000 per cycle.
There are a few location where MicroSort® can be done now, including Mexico and California.