Unravelling the DNA Blueprint: 43 Years of SCSA® Test Pioneering DNA Damage Discovery
In 1980, the SCSA® (Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay) Test was first introduced by Dr. Donald P. Evenson in the USA. After many years of research and experiments on various types of animals, it was tested on humans. For nearly 40 years, the SCSA® test has been helping thousands of couples trying to conceive. Male infertility has always been there, though hidden behind clouds of stigma, unacceptability and negativity. Now that the cloud has been removed and the diagnosis brought into the open, it is being treated as any other medical disorder.
However, in order to effectively do this, the man’s sperm needs to be tested and analysed. For this, the basic semen analysis is carried out. However, to obtain an even more detailed picture, additional tests to measure DNA damage have been introduced. The SCSA® test accomplishes this! Since its initiation, Dr. Evenson has carried out extensive research and studies and the current SCSA® test is proof that it is invaluable in defining fragmentation to DNA.
Sperm DNA fragmentation relates to breaks in the DNA strands, known as sperm single (ss) and double (ds) DNA strand breaks. Research and experiments on animals such as bulls, stallions and boars show that the SCSA® test can identify animals with the highest fertility. Studies on a multitude of clinical human semen samples also clarify that, when more 25% (which is the DFI percentage) of sperm ejaculated has DNA fragmentation which can be measured, the possibility of natural conception is reduced. The SCSA® test can measure the total of sperm DNA strand breaks. This is done with acridine orange staining, using a flow cytometer.
In 2011, leading biologist, Prof. John Aitken, wrote “The impetus to study the composition and integrity of sperm chromatin from a clinical perspective can be traced back to the pioneering studies of Don Evenson, who not only initiated research in this area long before it became fashionable but also pioneered one of the major analytical techniques used in assessment of sperm chromatin, the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA®). This assay has now become the industry standard against all other techniques”.
ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) was discovered by researcher Gianpiero Palermo. In 2017, he along with C. O’Neill has written that “many assays have been introduced into male infertility testing over the past two decades regarding varying aspects of spermatozoal competence. However, none has provided more clinically relevant data and insight into male fertility potential than the study of DNA fragmentation in the male gamete.”
From research, it has been ascertained that “while many have tried to quantitate sperm DNA fragmentation with light microscopy of AO stained sperm, it is now clear that due to many technical problems, this can not reliably be done by light microscopy, but is, however, very accurately accomplished by flow cytometry.”
It is established that the SCSA® test is the best and GOLD STANDARD method for understanding the levels of sperm DNA fragmentation. Across the world, It has been extensively assessed and proven that the outcomes are valid and accurate and it has high clinical value.
To carry out the authentic SCSA®test, a laboratory has to be associated with Dr. Evenson and SCSA Diagnostics, USA. It is with pride that we, at Andrology Center, state that we are the only laboratory in India sanctioned to carry out the genuine SCSA® test. In addition to the semen analysis, we perform the DFI (sperm DNA fragmentation) test. With the best of equipment and top class technology, our results are guaranteed and accurate and we provide accurate, clinically relevant and standardised reports. This makes it easier for the fertility specialist to suggest the best possible treatment options to the couple.