Nav: Home

New technique to aid IVF embryo selection

August 28, 2017

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), led by the University of Adelaide, have successfully developed an advanced new imaging technique, which can help assess the quality of early-stage embryos.

The research, reported in the journal Human Reproduction has the potential to significantly benefit the IVF industry of the future, improving assisted reproduction outcomes for women.

"We use a special type of imaging to show differences in the metabolism and chemical make-up of embryos before they've been implanted," says lead author Dr Mel Sutton-McDowall, from the University of Adelaide.

"This technique can give us an objective measure of which embryo to choose as part of the IVF process."

This 'hyperspectral imaging' measures light that cells naturally produce during their normal activities. The light or 'autoflorescence' produced changes according to the chemical reactions or metabolism going on in the cell.

Being able to measure embryo metabolism is viewed by many researchers as one of the most important factors as to whether a particular IVF program will be successful.

However, says Dr Sutton-McDowall, fertility specialists take a largely subjective approach in deciding which embryos should be used.

"Pre-implantation screening of embryos generally takes place under a normal optical microscope. Although it's quite easy to discern poor embryos (due to differences in uniformity), it is far harder for the clinician to determine objectively, the viability of the other embryos," she says.

"The challenge is how to choose the single healthiest embryo out of this group to maximise the chances of pregnancy."

Dr Sutton-McDowall sees the use of hyperspectral imaging as a new tool that can be combined with other diagnostic methods to provide a more accurate and objective embryo viability assessment.

"The benefit of hyperspectral imaging is that it can capture information-rich content of inspected objects. It analyses every pixel in an image for its light intensity at differing wavelengths," she says.

"This lets us drill down and analyse the hyperspectral signature of each individual embryo, looking for known or anomalous characteristics. It lets us discriminate between embryos, but also measuring metabolic differences within individual embryos. We predict that embryos that have cells with homogeneous (uniform) metabolic profiles are the healthier ones."

To date, this imaging technology has only been tested on cattle embryos but Dr Sutton-McDowall notes that the technique is extremely promising.

"It offers benefits of being a non-invasive imaging approach that provides real-time information to the clinician," she says.

The likely development of a specialised hyperspectral imaging tool for actual use in the IVF clinic is several years away but Sutton-McDowall believes that there is a strong surge of interest from IVF clinics to better predict embryo development outcomes through technology.

"I think we'll see this innovative approach commercialised fairly quickly," she says.

"IVF is a costly and complex treatment. Any new method that can help improve the odds of women successfully having babies is of benefit to both clinicians and their patients."

Not just limited to human IVF practice, Dr Sutton-McDowall also sees commercial opportunities for the hyperspectral technology across the farming, animal and livestock sectors as well.

"Many beef and dairy producers include advanced reproductive technology programs as a regular part of their farming practice," she says.

"Identifying and breeding from elite animals improves herd quality and maximises productivity. If we can enhance the IVF process and improve pregnancy outcomes, farmers will see better animals with healthier genetics and more desirable traits. I see a lot of potential for our imaging technology in this economically important area too."

-end-

This research was funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) with researchers located at the University of Adelaide (Robinson Research Institute and Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing), Macquarie University and Quantitative Pty Ltd.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Dr Mel Sutton-McDowall
The University of Adelaide
Mobile: +61 427 030 527
melanie.mcdowall@adelaide.edu.au

Tony Crawshaw
Communications and PR
Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP)
+61 402 770 403
tony.crawshaw@mq.edu.au

University of Adelaide

Related Metabolism Articles:

Pulling the tablecloth out from under essential metabolism
Most organisms share the biosynthetic pathways for making crucial nutrients because it is is dangerous to tinker with them.
Metabolism: Beta cells under fire
Type 2 diabetes causes pathological changes in the beta cells.
New insights into the tumor metabolism
Tumors, inflammation and circulatory disorders locally disturb the body's acid-base balance.
Fighting malaria through metabolism
EPFL scientists have fully modeled the metabolism of the deadliest malaria parasite.
Fighting malaria through mathematical analysis of parasite's metabolism
A new mathematical model, based on the deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, could help develop antimalarials by identifying key metabolic targets, according to a study published in PLOS Computational Biology by Vassily Hatzimanikatis at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, and colleagues.
Research helps explain how B cell metabolism is controlled
New research from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) addresses the lack of knowledge about how B cell metabolism adapts to each of their various environments -- development in the bone marrow, proliferation and hypermutation in the lymph nodes and spleen and circulation in the blood.
The importance of the glutamine metabolism in colon cancer
The importance of glutamine was made clear as a colon cancer specific metabolism.
Famine alters metabolism for successive generations
A famine that afflicted China between 1959 and 1961 is associated with an increased hyperglycemia risk not only among people who were born then, but also among the children they had a generation later.
Targeting breast cancer metabolism to fight the disease
How does a cancer cell burn calories? New research from Thomas Jefferson University shows that breast cancer cells rely on a different process for turning fuel into energy than normal cells.
Which genes are crucial for the energy metabolism of Archaea?
A research team led by Christa Schleper from the University of Vienna succeeded in isolating the first ammonia-oxidizing archaeon from soil: Nitrososphaera viennensis -- the 'spherical ammonia oxidizer from Vienna.' In the current issue of the renowned journal PNAS, the scientists present new results: they were able to detect all proteins that are active during ammonia oxidation -- another important piece of the puzzle for the elucidation of the energy metabolism of Archaea.

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Oliver Sipple
One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple's split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his personal life into political opportunity. What happens next makes us wonder what a moment, or a movement, or a whole society can demand of one person. And how much is too much?
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Future Consequences
From data collection to gene editing to AI, what we once considered science fiction is now becoming reality. This hour, TED speakers explore the future consequences of our present actions. Guests include designer Anab Jain, futurist Juan Enriquez, biologist Paul Knoepfler, and neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris.