What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done with a PlayStation 5 controller, and why isn’t it bringing human life into the world?

For many aspiring parents, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is prohibitively expensive.

  • A single cycle can cost $15k-$30k; insurance coverage varies.
  • Many patients undergo multiple cycles before conceiving, and it’s never a guarantee.

Spanish IVF startup Overture Life, which has raised ~$37m from backers including Google Ventures and 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki, has an idea: automation.

And recently, it announced the first babies born via its fertilization bot, per MIT Technology Review.

How it works

Typically, highly trained embryologists handle sperm and egg cells with thin, hollow needles under a microscope.

But Overture implanted a sperm cell into an egg using a robotic needle, which an engineer piloted using a Sony PS5 controller.

  • This process was repeated 12+ times, resulting in two baby girls.

CIO and geneticist Santiago Munné told MIT that he ultimately envisions a mini-IVF lab — “a box where sperm and eggs go in, and an embryo comes out five days later.” Any GYN could use the tech, thus, making it much cheaper than seeing a specialist.

Overture isn’t the only company…

… in the IVF space, a market expected to be worth $36.2B by 2026.

Fairtility’s Cultivating Human Life through Optimal Embryos (CHLOE) is an AI-powered tool to help clinicians select healthy embryos.

Fertilis makes 3D-printed cradles to hold eggs and embryos, reducing human handling.

But?

These developments are full of potential that once felt like sci-fi (e.g., artificial wombs), but full automation is still a long way off.

Overture’s process still requires humans, and some doctors MIT spoke with believe robots aren’t quite capable of outperforming humans… at least not yet.

BTW: Yes, we did find a game in which you are a sperm cell attempting to fertilize an egg — no PS5 required.

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