PFC's Dr. Conaghan Presents at ASRM

Posted on April 16, 2014 by Inception Fertility

The annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) gives us a chance to observe and present research and clinical projects that help improve the practice of reproductive medicine. PFC participates in this important event by sending staff from our laboratory and clinical teams for training, education and updates. The most recent meeting in Boston, MA, was well attended by delegates from across the US and around the world, and PFC was well represented.

In addition to the postgraduate courses, the main meeting is also a forum for the discussion and dispersion of new ideas and information. At PFC we try to stay on the cutting edge of our science by participating in research and clinical projects that we believe will increase our patients’ chance of success. We have been a real leader in the effort to reduce the multiple pregnancies that are a complication of IVF treatment, and have been recognized for these efforts nationally and internationally. I presented our research on time-lapse imaging of embryos at the annual meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in July as recognition for a prize winning talk at the Fertility Society of Australia (FSA) the previous November. This research has been ongoing at PFC for almost 3 years and our latest findings were presented at ASRM in Boston.

Time-lapse imaging of embryos is a new and important clinical tool that is used to help determine which embryos have the best potential for pregnancy following IVF. Previous to the availability of this type of imaging, embryos were observed daily, or every other day in the laboratory to monitor their development. Now however, it is possible to monitor embryos continuously without removing them from the culture incubator, and this continuous monitoring is allowing us to see if embryos make mistakes during development, or if they miss developmental milestones such as reaching appropriate stages on time. Our presentation in Boston reported the finding that some embryos exhibit an abnormal puckering or furrowing of the cell membrane just after fertilization and as they divide from 1 to 2 cells. This is a new observation that correlates negatively with embryo development. Embryos showing this behavior occurred in 88% of patients (i.e. almost every patient had one or more), and in 31% of all embryos. As a result, these embryos were less likely to be considered good quality on day 3 of development and fewer developed to the blastocyst stage by day 5 or 6 after fertilization. They were less likely to be selected for transfer or freezing, and had lower than expected implantation rates when transferred. The abnormalities seen with time-lapse imaging in the cell membrane of the 1-cell embryo become one more “de-selection” tool that the embryologist can use when looking to select embryos for transfer. By eliminating embryos that show abnormal behavior like this, the chance to select a better embryo for transfer is increased. However, observations like this are only made when the embryos are imaged, and abnormalities of this kind cannot be seen using conventional microscopy and embryo scoring.

Time-lapse imaging of embryos is fast becoming an important tool for the embryologist in organizing embryos according to their likelihood of continued development and implantation after transfer. Since most patients have multiple embryos and our objective is to transfer the ONE embryo with the highest potential for implantation, we are increasingly using advanced imaging to assess embryos. If you have questions about the use of this technology, or would like your embryos imaged during your IVF cycle, please ask us about it at your next visit.

- Joe Conaghan, PhD

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