“We’re seeing things we’ve never seen before,” says Nina Desai, PhD. “This could change everything.”
There’s still a hint of wonder and disbelief in her voice.
Dr. Desai, Director of the Cleveland Clinic In Vitro Fertilization Lab, is talking about embryoscope. This new technology revolutionizes the in vitro fertilization process, monitoring fertilized embryos’ development moment by moment — without disturbing their environment.
New information from an embryoscope makes it much easier for IVF specialists to choose the best, most viable embryos to implant — increasing the chances of successful pregnancy and births.
An embryoscope is a high-tech incubator with a time-lapse camera that allows researchers to see continuous imaging of embryos developing.
Most fertilized embryos today are kept in traditional incubators and researchers can only check on them once or twice a day. They can only be examined for minutes at a time, and researchers must be careful not to disturb the embryo’s environment.
That’s not a worry with an embryoscope.
IVF researchers touch a screen and watch in detail an embryo’s development moment by moment. They can better check for abnormalities and developmental milestones such as cell division, which can make a difference in the embryo’s ability to implant.
Dr. Desai says, “Embryos do amazing things when we’re not looking. With an embyroscope I might see one that developed more erratically than the other. It gives us extra information that could provide an edge in choosing the most viable embryos.”
This extra information may also lead to new perceptions of what “good” embryos are in relation to the IVF process.
Because fewer embryos will be transferred through a more efficient selection the number of higher risk multiple pregnancies will decrease. Of the 70 patients Dr. Desai or her team have treated using an embryoscope, 49 have gotten pregnant.
This could revolutionize the way in vitro fertilization procedure is done, says Dr. Desai.
“One day soon, no one will be doing IVF the way it’s done now. IVF is constantly evolving,” she says. “In the near future we may see embryo selection being made by computer imaging systems that constantly monitor embryo progression past critical endpoints.”