In vitro device rocks the baby


In vitro fertilization (IVF) saw an improved pregnancy rate in mice by 22% when gentle rocking motion was added to the embryos while they grow, new University of Michigan research shows. The procedure if adopted for human IVF could lead to significantly higher IVF success rates.

Researchers built a device that imitates the motion that embryos experience in the mother’s body as they make their way down the oviduct or woman’s fallopian tube to the uterus. Currently in IVF, fertilized eggs remain still until they are transferred to the uterus.

“By making the cells feel more at home, we get better cells, which is key to having better infertility treatment,” said Shu Takayama, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and in macromolecular science and engineering.

Takayama and Gary Smith, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the U-M Medical Center, are co-authors of a paper published online in the journal Human Reproduction.

The device they studied holds early-stage embryos in a thimble-sized funnel. The bottom of the funnel is lined with microscopic channels that allow fresh, nutrient-rich fluid to flow in and waste products out with a rocking motion. The funnel sits on rows of Braille pins that pulse up and down, pushing the fluids in and out of the channels.

The current simulates flows that occur in the mother’s body due to muscle contractions and the motion of hair-like projections called cilia that line the oviducts. In the body, these motions help to push fertilized eggs to the uterus and flush out eggs’ waste products. This development could help recreate a more human environment in the laboratory and create more successful IVF treatments.

Source: University of Michigan


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