Researchers at UC Irvine developed an independent non-invasive method to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy embryos.
According to the centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report, there were 208, 786 assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles performed in 2014, which is a 63% increase from the 127,877 in 2004. However, the efficiency and success rate of live births per treatment is as low as 27% (57,32 births).
The gold standard for assessment of embryo quality prior to in vitro fertilization (IVF) is conducted by experienced physicians and scientists, who visually inspect dividing embryos under a microscope. However, the success of this approach is largely dictated by the experience of physicians and consequently it is subjective and error prone. Moreover, morphology may not provide direct indication of the physiological state of the embryo. For this reason, multiple embryos are often implanted to increase the chance of successful pregnancy, despite the fact that this adds significant burden to the mother, and can result in multiple simultaneous pregnancies.
There is the necessity to develop new tools for assessing the quality of developing embryos to minimize such risks. Inclusion of a non-invasive, approach to measure the metabolic activity of live embryos will provide an important new tool for embryo quality assessment. While some relevant technologies have developed in the past, these approaches all have major shortfalls. One patented invention declares a non-invasive method, which involves aspirating media in which embryos are cultured, and running a series of biochemical reactions to assess the amount of bioactive enzymes secreted by the embryo to oxidize NADH to NAD. This assay is time consuming and may suffer from limited accuracy. Another methods measures fluorescence of NADH, however, this type of ultraviolet light is harmful to the embryos and thus not practical.
Researchers at UC Irvine have overcome these disadvantages by employing an independent non-invasive method to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy embryos. The method has been demonstrated on preimplantation mouse embryos, which serves as a readout of embryo quality and viability.
This method can be used to assess the quality and viability of preimplantation embryos prior to in vitro fertilization (IVF), with applications in IVF clinics, as well in the agricultural sector for animal breading.
This method is rapid, noninvasive and does not use harmful fluorescence, which reduces the risk of harm to the embryos and thus, reduces the need to implant multiple embryos. Moreover, this method is more accurate than morphological assessment, and if needed, can be conducted in addition to a morphological assessment.
In vitro studies in mice have been completed.