By the end of the year we will have started a new and very exciting research project in our lab. We have partnered with a company called Incept Biosystems (www.inceptbio.com) to do a clinical trial of a new embryo culture system called microfluidics.
The traditional culture dish with medium droplets under oil as described by Brinster, R.L., 1963, Exp. Cell Res., Vol. 32
A schematic of a microfluidic embryo culture device with fresh medium in blue and spent medium in red. The embryo is contained at the base of the chamber, where the blue medium ends. Patients that are asked to participate will have to consent to the study, where their embryos will be divided into 2 groups for culture in the microfluidic device and in the traditional petri dish. The culture media will be the same for all the embryos, but half will be in a replenishing media current (microfluidics) and half will be in our traditional static culture. Microfluidics has had impressive results with mouse embryos where it significantly increased rates of development and implantation over those for embryos grown in static culture. Cell numbers for the microfluidic embryos were almost twice as high as for traditional culture (110 vs. 65), and pregnancy rates from transferred embryos were increased by 22%. Incept Biosystems have tested the new technology extensively and have been able to obtain surplus IVF embryos donated for research for human trials. There are some nice videos on their website that showcase the equipment and procedure, and detail the mouse embryo results. Professor Smith presented the results and won the prize paper at the 2008 American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) meeting (Smith et al., 2008, Fertility and Sterility, Vol 90, pages S1-S2), and these results will soon be published in a peer reviewed journal. We will be asking for participants to join the study, beginning in November and continuing for 2-3 months. This is a short study requiring enrollment of only 20 patients, but a larger study is planned for next year subject to favorable outcomes here. If you are interested in the study and would like more information, please ask your physician at your next visit.