Industry-First Sperm Biology Platform

Ohana has built the industry’s first sperm biology platform through a unique combination of biology and technology never before applied to reproductive health. By applying computational biology techniques to analyze our extensive library of single-cell sequenced sperm, we can characterize the molecular properties of sperm in a more sophisticated way than has previously existed. Through this, we can identify novel inhibitors for contraception, advance measures of sperm quality for fertility, and characterize sperm populations relative to disease risk.

Why is sperm biology important?

Sperm counts around the world are falling. Tens of millions of people struggle with infertility each year, 50% of which is due to male factors. At the same time, more men are waiting later in life to become fathers, increasing the risk of inherited disease, developmental disorders and pregnancy complications. In addition, few choices for contraception exist, most of which are hormone-based and associated with near- and long-term health impacts for women.

Through sperm biology we can unlock the keys to address these growing public health concerns.

Premature births and miscarriage

Pregnancy complications

Inherited disease and developmental disorders

Disease caused by epigenetic factors such as lifestyle and environment

Ohana Key Findings

Single-cell Heterogeneity in Sperm

Sperm vary significantly at the molecular and functional levels. Cutting-edge technologies such as single-cell sequencing, high-throughput imaging, and cell surface profiling allow us to distinguish differences in sperm at the molecular level (known as molecular heterogeneity). By applying machine learning and other integrative analysis approaches, we have identified the functional impact of sperm diversity.

We are developing novel tools to separate sperm based on disease alleles, spontaneous mutations, DNA damage and other changes that are correlated with disease risk or maternal safety. By doing so, we aim to improve pregnancy success, reduce pregnancy complications, and reduce the risk of passing on inherited disease to children.

Sperm Function

Sperm are a highly differentiated cell type with many unique features that can affect function. During the natural conception process, sperm undergo changes in activity and molecular composition as they travel through the female reproductive tract to enable the fertilization of an egg. Extensive research into understanding these necessary fertility functions has allowed us to mimic the physiological changes normally stimulated by the sperm’s passage in the female reproductive tract, which we believe could increase live birth rates in assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as IVF. Through this understanding we can also temporarily prevent conception by developing non-hormonal contraceptives that block the sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg.

Additional Resources

You can find out more about advocacy and support for families struggling with infertility with the following resources: