This microfluidic platform allows the vitrification of cells using cryopreservative agents while minimizing damage to the cell due to the sudden loss of water (osmotic shock). Assisted reproductive techniques (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) often require the preservation of oocytes and zygotes. 1.5 million Assisted reproductive procedures are performed worldwide. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, IVF procedures cost $12,400 on average. Increasing the number and quality of preserved oocytes and embryos would improve the success of assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF and reduce patient costs.
Microfluidic cryo-exchange reduces osmotic shock
Current methods of vitrification have poor control over the rate at which cells are exposed to cryo-protectants. . This technology uses a microfluidic arrangement to control the rate at which cryopreservative is exchanged with the cellular media such that osmotic shock experienced by the oocyte/zygote is minimized. The cells can also be visualized during vitrification or warming and allows for the selection of the appropriate oocytes/zygotes. In preliminary experiments, oocytes vitrified using this technology showed improved survival compared to oocytes vitrified by dunking. Zygotes cultured from such oocytes showed more cells than controls. This technology would be applicable to assisted reproduction and other applications that would require the cryopreservation of cells.
- Vitrification of oocytes/embryos
- Vitrification of other cells
- Ease of operation
- Added capability of real-time visualization
- Higher cytoplasmic lipid retention
- Better embryo developmental competence