What has lactate (aka lactic acid) got to do with embryos? Most people are familiar with this carboxylic acid only in the context of it as the end product of glucose use through glycolysis that builds up in your muscles when you exercise at the gym! Well, it transpires that lactate is actually a key regulator of embryo function, with new roles emerging as our understanding of cell physiology increases. In other words, it is far more important than we originally thought.
The 36th annual meeting of ESHRE took place online this year, with more than 12,000 registered participants. Like last year, the Vitrolife team has put together our thoughts and reflections on some of the scientific content from the meeting. We also offer the opportunity to watch our recorded scientific symposium again.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is widely used and affects our daily lives even if we do not notice. From smart phone tools and personalised shopping experiences to assisted airline operations and medical diagnosis. When the appropriate method is chosen and trained on data that sufficiently represents the intended use, artificial intelligence makes our life easier and more comfortable.
Chromosome aneuploidy (abnormal chromosome copy number) is a major cause of IVF failure, pregnancy loss and in rare cases, affected live births. Preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A), following culture to the blastocyst stage, trophectoderm biopsy, vitrification and testing by next generation sequencing (NGS) based methods for chromosome copy number analysis, is now widely used to identify embryos with normal chromosome copy number (euploid).
The beginning of a year is always a time for reflection on the achievements of the past year and an opportunity to look forward to what the coming year may bring. And for the newly formed Genomics Division here at Vitrolife, 2019 was certainly a busy time that has flown by. The team was well represented at all of the main reproductive genetics and IVF annual meetings including Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis International Society (PGDIS) meeting in Geneva and Controversies in Preconception, Preimplantation and Prenatal Genetics (CoGen) in Paris. At ESHRE in Vienna, Genomics was represented on the Vitrolife stand, which was a great opportunity to meet customers face-to-face, but equally important for us, to get to know all of our colleagues in other areas! There was a well-attended lunch time symposium at which I represented genomics and, in the evening, I had a lot of fun giving the after-dinner talk reminiscing on 30 plus years of my involvement in the field, since we published the first clinical pregnancies following preimplantation genetic diagnosis or PGD, as it was known then, for a range of X-linked inherited diseases, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
It is with great sadness that Vitrolife posts this memoriam for Prof Michelle Lane, who passed away last week.
What do you as an IVF professional look for when setting up an entirely new clinic and laboratory? For the laboratory manager, Helle Bendtsen at Aleris-Hamlet Fertility in Copenhagen, the advantage of having one supplier for all of their procedures in the laboratory was clear quite quickly: ‘When setting up the clinic we received great support from Vitrolife in terms of selecting all the products for the entire IVF procedure. From oocyte retrieval all the way to vitrification and transfer’, she says and adds: ‘Previously I’ve worked with products from several different suppliers, but now I can truly see the benefits with having all our products from Vitrolife.’
“A picture is worth a thousand words” – this old proverb is embraced and applied by medical device manufacturers all around the world, but why is that?
The answer to that question starts with the fact that most countries’ health authorities require medical device manufacturers to provide product information to the users in their local language. This is a not a problem for manufacturers who produce and distribute big volume products where an entire batch will be sold in only one country. They simply produce batches dedicated to the specific country with product information in that local language.
Blastocyst grading is known to be highly subjective and without the use of time-lapse can result in an incorrect evaluation of collapsed or partially collapsed blastocysts. Artificial intelligence has the potential to make processes in IVF more precise, consistent and efficient in the future. This paper1 describes how deep learning (a subset of artificial intelligence) was used to design an algorithm to enable fully automatic grading of ICM and TE quality from time-lapse images. A similar approach has been used to estimate morphokinetic timings and PN count.
For most people, amino acids are synonymous with protein and DNA synthesis and their ability to act as substrates for energy production, and relatively little else. Over the past two decades however we have developed a very different appreciation for amino acids and the highly diverse roles they play in regulating embryo physiology. Here their functions (beyond body building!) are considered, and how their supplementation to embryo culture media has contributed significantly to the increase in IVF success rates worldwide.