In the field of Assisted Reproductive Technology, one of the most significant goals in the treatment of infertility is decreasing multiple gestations while maintaining or improving overall pregnancy rates.
A key element in this endeavour is identifying good and poor embryos among a patient’s cohort. Poor embryo quality can be caused by metabolic errors, fragmentation and other cellular deficiencies that are known to compromise embryo development and, at the follicular level, are associated with poor oocyte viability.
Today, due to the lack of fully effective diagnostic procedures, IVF treatments that (unknowingly) start with genetically defective eggs are likely to be compromised. This problem will continue to impact infertility treatment outcomes until biologically competent oocytes (and embryos) can be selected from their non-viable cohorts.
New technology that is capable of selecting only competent oocytes and embryos in an IVF program should lead to markedly improved treatment outcomes and success rates. An important additional benefit – safety – should also be realized since selective use of only viable, competent embryos means fewer embryos are needed for transfer, thus reducing the risk of multiple births. By selecting only the most viable embryos, these new technologies should also help to minimize the number of IVF treatment cycles needed to achieve a healthy pregnancy, while reducing patient cost.
The non-invasive assessment of gamete and embryo reproductive potential has been the “holy grail” of IVF.
The Molecular Biometrics Solution
To address this critical need in infertility treatment, Molecular Biometrics is developing an accurate, non-invasive procedure to assess embryo viability in an IVF laboratory – ViaMetrics®-E.
During embryo culture, and at the time of embryo selection prior to transfer, culture media that bathes the embryo would be analyzed using ViaMetrics-E to assess embryo reproductive potential or viability. All culture samples used in Molecular Biometrics’ proprietary metabolomic profiling platform would be excess specimens that are either discarded or stored after IVF; only small (10-14µl) sample volumes will be required for analysis. The instrument needed to perform these sophisticated analyses is being engineered to provide reliable, cost effective, and user-friendly analysis. The Company’s proprietary bioinformatics will rapidly capture and analyze multiple biomarker data and perform high-speed computations that will quickly produce results.
Enabling Single Embryo Transfer (SET)
Reducing the number of embryos transferred is expected to lead to a reduction in the number of multiple births. The goal of IVF practitioners, patients, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and insurance providers alike is to achieve a reduction in the multiple birth rate without compromising pregnancy rates. Unfortunately, this has proven to be an elusive goal due to the limitations of the current embryo selection procedures. The availability of metabolomic profiling is expected to empower practitioners to eventually move from multiple embryo transfer to single embryo transfer (SET) as the new paradigm of clinical practice in IVF. Medical experts in the field have advised Molecular Biometrics that the immediate benefits of effective metabolomic analysis are likely to include:
enhanced treatment outcomes, and a reduction in the multiple birth rate
a reduction in medical risk to mother and babies from multiple gestations, resulting in reduced medical costs
reduction in the time and cost of achieving a successful pregnancy
enhanced quality of donor egg and sperm banks
expansion of the IVF market as more couples can afford to seek treatment of infertility
broader insurance coverage for IVF procedures