Morphology-based Rating of Egg Development Potential

Period of Performance: 09/22/2000 - 03/20/2002


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Cambridge Research and Instrumentation
80 Ashford Street
Boston, MA 02134
Principal Investigator


Since the first in vitro fertilization baby in 1978, IVF has brought significant benefit to tens of thousands of otherwise infertile couples. Behind the success stories lies a per-cycle success rate of only 23%, and a high rate of multiple gestation, with significant emotional, health and economic costs. Present assisted reproduction techniques for egg quality assessment consist of visual inspection of morphology using Hoffman or DIC microscopy, and some genetic testing. There is compelling evidence that morphology of the phase II meiotic spindle can be used to assess viability. However, conventional contrast-enhancement techniques for revealing spindle morphology are invasive and incompatible with clinical IVF. An imaging technique that reveals spindle morphology non- invasively and software that uses the morphometric information to predict outcome might provide an essential new tool for reducing uncertainty in the IVF process. Birefringence imaging with the PolScope microscope reveals the meiotic spindle non-invasively by measuring birefringent retardation at each image point in the field of view. Our goals in Phase I are to confirm the PolScope accurately reveals spindle morphology by comparing with fluorescence confocal images, and develop multiple regression models to assess the PolScope's utility for predicting IVF outcome based on the morphometric data. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: If we can demonstrate utility for predicting IVF outcome, we will then develop a commercial instrument that would aid in the grading of eggs, which should be of significant interest to the 300 or more IVF clinics in the US, and the 500 or more IVF clinics outside the US. We would also expect interest from veterinarian clinics.