A team of geneticists and doctors have published an article in the Nature communications journal in which they state that the “suppleness”of an embryo can predict its viability. They hope to improve embryo selection and therefore the success of IVF by means of a “compression test”. As far as they are concerned, “selecting an embryo for IVF could be as straightforward as choosing ripe fruit – simply press it and see”.
Using a pipette, scientists applied minor pressure to murine embryos one hour after fertilisation. The deformation of each embryo was recorded. Placed in a standard nutritional environment, the embryos were then examined at the blastocyst stage. The data were then analysed using software which “can predict with 90% accuracy whether an embryo will grow and produce a ‘well-formed’ embryo”. According to the authors, live birth rates are increased by 50% with this test compared to conventional embryo selection techniques.
The team “successfully” repeated the experiment on human embryos. The explanation is still shrouded in mystery to this day. Nevertheless, scientists found that genes playing key roles in DNA distribution or cell division were under-expressed or poorly expressed in human embryos that were “too rigid or too soft”.
Thus the rigidity of a fertilised embryo could predict its viability more accurately, swiftly and reliably than all of the techniques currently used today. The aim is also to implant only one embryo to avoid multiple pregnancies.
Livia Yanez, the main study author currently wishes “to develop this mechanical test”.
The Telegraph (24/02/2016)