New IVF Technology from Auxogyn Enables Complete Visual Record of Early Embryo Development and Assessment of Potential

07 May 2013
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Bourn Hall Clinic will be the first fertility centre in the East of England to use a new technology for IVF that records and analyses previously unseen information about embryo development. Early Embryo Viability Assessment (EevaTM) is designed to improve IVF outcomes by analyzing embryo development and providing objective information about the embryo's growth. It will enable embryologists to select the most viable embryos with a new degree of precision.

Martyn Blayney, Head of Science at Bourn Hall, the world's first IVF clinic, says;

"The new technique is exciting. Bourn Hall Clinic already has excellent IVF success rates, however we are continually looking at how we can help more people and Eeva looks very promising. Eeva images and records information about each embryo every 5 minutes, providing a complete visual history of early development in a way we haven't seen before."

The Eeva test is non-invasive and uses intelligent computer vision software to measure and analyse key scientifically and clinically proven cell-division markers from video images. It then provides predictive information on which embryos are likely to form blastocysts at 5-6 days. This is the stage at which implantation within the womb can occur.

Although only 60 per cent of embryos are capable of reaching blastocyst those that do reach this stage have far higher success rates. In 2012, 50.3% of patients aged under 38 having a blastocyst transfer at Bourn Hall Clinic achieved a clinical pregnancy.

Eeva was validated in a multi-centre, 160-patient clinical trial, with results presented at the European Society of Human Embryology and Embryology (ESHRE) Annual meeting in July 2012. The study showed that embryologists using Eeva were able to predict which embryos were able to form blastocysts with 85% specificity. Eeva also increased the consistency of embryo assessment across embryologists.

Achieving fertilization and forming embryos is the first challenge for clinical embryologists; the next is determining which of the embryos has the greatest chance of becoming a baby. The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) requires clinics to limit the number of multiple births. This means that more patients will have a single embryo transferred. Deciding which embryos will be transferred into the patient's womb is already a huge decision, but where only one embryo is involved the choice becomes critical.

Traditionally in IVF, selection is made by a skilled embryologist who assesses the developing embryo under a microscope and assigns a grade based on the number and evenness of the cells, as well as the degree of fragmentation. One of the disadvantages of this procedure is that the delicate embryos must be removed from their incubators, for the observations to occur; hence the checks are kept to a minimum.

The Eeva microscopes are located inside an incubator, so the environment remains completely undisturbed. The embryos are imaged every 5 minutes, so their development is seen in its entirety, and as it is computer generated the information is completely free from human bias.

Martyn summarizes "Eeva offers continual, consistent and objective evaluation of the embryos with minimal disturbance during those crucial first few days. We continually strive to try and increase every patient's chance of success, and with the quantitative data that Eeva provides we are able to determine which embryos have the greatest potential, thereby providing our patients with the highest level of care."

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Sarah Thomas
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