19 May 2013

Embryoscope: How an Embryo Develops

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IVF Australia

The British researchers announcement regarding an improved technique for IVF that involves thousands of time-lapse photos during the earliest stages of embryo development was reported on Channel 9 National news and the Today Show over the weekend, and included a local perspective as IVFAustralia’s specialists are also working on pioneering digital time lapsed imagery technology, which may improve success rates for women using IVF to fall pregnant.

The Embryoscope combines an incubator, a microscope and a time-lapse camera to provide IVF specialists with a continuous record of an embryo’s development, instead of the traditional method, which involves removing embryos from their incubator once a day and observing them under a microscope.

The technology has been successfully used in Europe where it was developed, and more recently in the US.

“This technology offers hope for more successful IVF treatments and for women who have experienced repeated IVF failure,” said A/Prof Peter Illingworth, Medical Director, IVFAustralia.

“The continuous record of embryo development provided by the Embryoscope is extremely valuable.  Having more information about the development of an embryo helps us to better distinguish which embryos are more likely to result in a successful pregnancy,” A/Prof Illingworth said.

Typically fertilised embryos are removed from an incubator once a day and examined under a microscope to observe developmental progress during the 3-5 days they are in the laboratory before being transferred back to the woman.  With a continuous record now available via the use of Embryoscope, scientific specialists are able to identify optimal patterns of development or abnormalities in an embryo’s growth that may be indicative of the embryo’s future development and that may have previously gone undetected.

In addition, the reduced handling and manipulation of the embryos may contribute to improved embryo viability.

“The Embryoscope provides clinicians with a depth of information about embryo quality that simply wasn’t available previously, this can make a real difference in helping us identify the best embryo to implant,” Dr Simon Cooke, Scientific Director at IVFAustralia said.

“For example, it means we can track with greater precision the sequence and time in which cell division is taking place.  Both of these factors appear to have a bearing on the chance of achieving a successful pregnancy. We can also identify factors which may influence a decision to not select a particular embryo for implantation,” Dr Cooke said.

Each Embryoscope is capable of incubating 72 embryos at a time, which means it can be used to assist up to six women simultaneously.

While Embryoscope technology is currently being deployed at IVFAustralia clinics in Sydney and Melbourne IVF clinics, we are gathering data on IVF candidates’ clinical indicators and IVF history to determine which patients may receive the most benefit from the Embryoscope before the technology will be widely available for clinical use.

“We anticipate a growing application of this technology in the future,” said Dr Cooke. “This superior incubator gives us an enormous amount of information. For example we are able to view an embryo’s development for 7200 minutes during their 5 day development compared with the standard 6 minutes. We are gathering data to determine the full potential of the technology to decide which patient circumstances and conditions would most benefit from the use of the Embryoscope.”

IVFAustralia is pleased to be researching this technology in Australia.  The investment is consistent with the company’s support for research and development as a means of providing the best possible care and support for its patients.


For further information please contact Nicole Phillips, IVFAustralia, 0408 280 499

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