25 March 2018

First Australian pregnancy from embryos monitored with new time lapse imaging technology

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Melbourne IVF

Australia's first pregnancy has been achieved from embryos that have been monitored and filmed using the next generation time lapse digital imaging technology at Melbourne IVF laboratories, part of Virtus Health.

The technology, EmbryoScope+ by Vitrolife, allows scientists and clinicians to carefully monitor and review the development of embryos at any point in time. The time-lapse technology allows the detection of which embryos are developing abnormally, and therefore less likely to establish a pregnancy.

"The imaging technology is second to none,” says Professor David Gardner, Scientific Advisor at Melbourne IVF, one of the centres of Australia’s largest fertility provider Virtus Health.

“Not only is the EmbryoScope an excellent incubator, it also provides exquisite detail of embryo development revealing how much more we have to learn about an embryo’s potential,” he said.

“I've spent over 30 years studying human embryo development and this technology accelerates our ability to help patients. It allows us to literally see the embryo with new eyes, and identify different patterns of embryo development that have previously gone undetected,” said Professor Gardner internationally renowned clinical embryologist, highly acclaimed researcher and educator in the field of reproductive medicine.

Embryoscope+ combines an incubator with a substantially higher resolution camera and computer software to automatically capture more focussed images of an embryo up to every seven minutes. Exceptional quality time lapse imagery provides accurate, magnified data tracking an embryo’s development.

"The continuous recording of embryo development is extremely valuable,” says Professor Gardner.

Identification of abnormal embryo development in the incubator will allow clinicians to decide whether there is need for preimplantation genetic screening, or whether the embryo does not warrant transfer to the patient.

Professor Gardner has made significant contributions to the international field of reproductive medicine pioneering the development and clinical introduction of blastocyst culture and grading, which has transformed how the majority of human in vitro fertilisation cases are performed with use of the 'Gardner scale'.

"We are committed to improving pregnancy rates and it is extremely reassuring to see how far technology is advancing in order to provide our patients with the best chance they have of establishing a family." he says.

Numerous studies confirm embryo development quality and neonatal safety in the Embryoscope+ incubator due to the constant monitoring and measurement of the environment within which the embryos are developing, which is complemented by the digital imagery. In Standard IVF practise, embryos are placed in a specially controlled incubator and removed once a day to examine embryo quality to determine the best possible candidate which will result in a live birth. However these evaluation checks mean that the embryos must be taken from their optimal development conditions.

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