Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 6 - 2012

David Camarillo, Bioengineering
Renee Reijo Pera, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Barry Behr, Obstetrics and Gynecology

The ultimate objective of this project is to improve outcomes of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) by examining fundamental properties of the egg to embryo transition that may predict viability. Mechanical properties can be measured noninvasively and at an earlier stage than is presently possible with any other technique. Furthermore, recent studies have indicated that the mechanical properties of eggs and embryos are associated with viability. Our hypothesis is that mechanical properties of the egg at the time of fertilization reflect the maturity of the egg and therefore its developmental potential. To address this hypothesis, we propose to measure mechanical parameters from micropipette aspiration for correlation to known signatures of viability obtained from the time-lapse imaging. This research could increase success rates of IVF by selecting the most viable embryos for transfer back to the mother, minimizing health risks while decreasing the emotional and financial burden of the procedure. It also has the potential to be extended to to other applications which require higher throughput and higher dimensional data, such as detecting differentiation and cancer potential in stem cell grafts.