There is an unmet market need in the international animal breeding industry for an affordable and effective sperm sex sorting product.
Engender Technologies Limited is a New Zealand company that has developed a technology to separate X- and Y-bearing bull sperm cells. This technology is expected to be low cost and cause minimal discernible damage to the cells. Sex sorting is expected to sustainably accelerate genetic gain and improve cost efficiencies in large animal reproduction.
Engender aims to achieve this through the use of high-tech microfluidic and photonic chips that are expected to sort sperm by sex at a lower cost, with less negative impact on fertility and with increased sperm retention over existing technology.
The initial target is the dairy industry. Current sex sorting technology utilises fluorescence-activated cell sorting, a flow cytometry method. Sperm sorted using this technique experience significant shear forces and electrostatic fields; which reduces the viability of the sorted sperm. In addition, high numbers of healthy sperm are discarded in order to keep the fidelity of the sex-sorting high (high % X- or Y-bearing sperm).
Engender is currently focused on developing its prototype microfluidic chip into a commercial prototype that is suitable for mass production. In parallel, the company aims to design and build a laboratory prototype instrument that operates the microfluidic chip, in order to undertake IVF5 trials and the first field AI trial. Engender also aims to test and optimize improvements to the technology to ensure that the technology continues to out-perform the competition. Finally, Engender intends to further develop the business by seeking further potential licensees, who may also be future acquirers of the company. These developments will place Engender in a strong position for an eventual mass production and commercial sales.
In November 2018 Engender Technologies was purchased by the global animal genetics company CRV.