PFC's Laboratory Director Lectures in Brazil
In August I was invited to attend and speak at the Brazilian Congress for Reproductive Medicine in Saõ Paulo. This is an intense multi-day conference for medical and laboratory professionals in Brazil and other South American countries where the latest advances in reproductive technologies are presented.
I spent 2 days conducting intense vitrification workshops for advanced embryologists teaching the detailed methodologies that have allowed us to be so successful with oocyte and embryo frozen storage. We did hands-on training for 8 groups of students using mouse embryos and bovine oocytes as practice materials. Following the workshops, there was 2 days of lectures and I was invited to give 3 talks on embryology laboratory procedures that we have developed here at PFC.
First I talked about assisted hatching and how it is now a required procedure after frozen embryo transfers. We discovered a few years ago that the shell around oocytes and embryos hardens significantly when frozen and we developed a process to help embryos escape from the shell after we thaw oocytes or embryos. I’ve actually lectured in Brazil on this subject twice before, but there is still demand for learning the technique there.
I then lectured on different aspects of our embryo culture system which was also of great interest to the Brazilian embryologists. We have worked hard to develop an embryo culture environment and culture system that optimizes the chances that an embryo will grow to the blastocyst stage. The culture system minimizes the handling of individual embryos, leaves them undisturbed in culture, grows them in groups rather than individually and is very efficient in consumable use and is easy to reproduce in other labs. The embryologists in Brazil particularly liked the efficiency of the system and the increased rate of blastocyst formation that it produces.
At PFC we actually can culture embryos to day 7 after oocyte retrieval compared to day 6 in most other labs around the world. This gives us 10-15% more blastocysts that with more traditional culture systems, so it’s great for our patients and really maximizes the yield from every IVF cycle.
After returning from the conference, they asked me to record a short video to introduce my lectures which they are posting on the society website. Our relationship with embryologists around the world has always been strong and we continue to grow and share information with colleagues so that patients everywhere can benefit from technology breakthroughs.