7 July 2014

Time-lapse imaging identifies enhanced developmental potential in IVF embryos

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Melbourne IVF study awarded scientific prize at International Fertility Conference

A study by Melbourne IVF demonstrating the benefits of using time-lapse imaging to identify embryos with significantly enhanced developmental potential has been awarded 3rd prize at the world’s largest fertility conference this week.

The developers of the time-lapse technology, Ferilitech, sponsored awards for the best papers on time lapse analysis of embryos at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Endocrinology Annual Scientific Meeting in Germany this week. Out of the 52 presentations that were assessed, Melbourne IVF Scientific Director, Associate Professor David Edgar was awarded 3rd prize for his paper carried out with Melbourne IVF Embryologist Dr Petra Wale, ‘Time-lapse imaging demonstrates that human embryos undergoing Nuclear Envelope Breakdown (NEBD) within an optimal time range exhibit enhanced developmental potential’.

"Time-lapse imaging allows uninterrupted observations of embryos throughout the embryo’s early developmental phase during an IVF cycle."

“The significance of this study is the identification of the precise timings of specific events within the embryo’s development that predict timely formation of a blastocyst (the stage of development reached after 5 days in the laboratory),” A/Prof Edgar said.

“These timings can be combined to create a simple algorithm, that can ultimately assist in identifying cleavage stage embryos (embryos grown for only 2 days) with significantly enhanced developmental potential.

“This information is important as it allows Melbourne IVF to provide a treatment model utilising both day 2 and day 5 embryos, to suit the individual needs of patients and to maximise the outcomes for that patient based on how their treatment progresses,” he said.

A/Prof Edgar advised that whilst the technology is not available to all patients, the use of the technology and studies being undertaken by Melbourne IVF have proven critical to our understanding of the importance of minimal disturbance of embryos through the early developmental phase.

“We hope that continued research using time-lapse imaging will further inform our clinical practice at Melbourne IVF, to allow selection of the best embryo for transfer in an IVF cycle and to provide even better results for patients.

Melbourne IVF sister clinic IVFAustralia based in New South Wales, is also using time-lapse imaging to identify the significant events that occur between day 2 - day 5 in the development of a good quality blastocyst. They have seen that poor quality blastocysts show a significantly increased time to reach any growth stage compared with good quality blastocysts.

An algorithm is applied to the time-lapse software based on five parameters found to be the most significant predicators of day 5 blastocyst quality. A study is underway to investigate if using these parameters to choose the most suitable embryo for transfer improves pregnancy rates for fresh blastocyst transfers.

Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the incorporation of Melbourne IVF, Associate Professor Edgar, who has been instrumental in the scientific research and innovation at Melbourne IVF for more than 20 years, presented the study findings at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Munich, Germany.

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