We are a team of scientists, researchers, and medical professionals using epigenetics to improve pregnancy success rates for men dealing with infertility.Discover Episona's Seed
There’s a common set of questions we get about providing a sample for the Seed test. Is it okay to just send my sample through the mail? Doesn’t it need to be refrigerated or tested immediately?
The short answers are…
YES, it’s perfectly okay to send your sample to our lab through the mail. (Properly stored of course!)
NO, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Sperm cells are tough and DNA in general is a very stable molecule. Let’s dig a little deeper into sperm cells, how our test works, and what affect transportation has.
Sperm Cells are robust.
What makes sperm cells so hardy? Well, for one, they are very compact; sperm are one of the smallest cells in the human body. Unlike many other cells in your body, mature sperm are not generating new proteins. This means the cellular machinery required for protein synthesis is absent in sperm cells, making them much smaller. In fact, the cell nucleus (which contains the DNA) takes up almost all the space in the sperm head. Because the DNA does not need to be ‘read’ to produce new protein, the sperm genome can be compressed into a much smaller space than in other cell types. They also only contain half as much DNA as other cells in the male body (the other half of the DNA required for the embryo will come from the egg), further reducing their size.
Sperm cells are so compact and robust that special methods must be used in the lab to break them open and extract their DNA. So, the sperm cells will die when you send in your sample, but all the DNA information necessary for our test will remain intact.
The DNA is still intact after sperm cells die.
Since the sperm’s DNA is so tightly compacted and protected, it remains intact even after the cell dies. DNA molecules themselves, depending on environmental conditions, can survive for hundreds or thousands of years. DNA testing is being used by law enforcement agencies to generate breakthroughs in decades-old crimes. So, a few days in the mail won’t damage it.
The epigenetic information, which Episona reads, is an additional layer of methyl groups on top of the DNA. These are attached to the DNA by covalent bonds, which are one of the strongest kinds of chemical bonds.
We carefully examine each sample that arrives.
When samples arrive at our lab, they are carefully examined under a microscope for the presence of intact sperm cells. The samples are prepared to remove any somatic tissue or contaminants and a special procedure to extract the sperm DNA is used. We check carefully that enough sperm DNA is present to reliably run the assay. This is almost always the case, as the test is highly sensitive and requires very little DNA.
Just to be completely sure, we have tested exposing samples to extreme temperatures for several days and observed no adverse impacts on our ability to perform the analysis used in our test.