IVF is becoming more and more remote from the mother and father responsible for an embryo’s creation. Scientists in Barcelona, Spain, claim that they are successfully creating embryos with a specially designed robot to maximize efficiency and quality control.
Writing in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, Nuno Costa-Borges and his team say that eliminating the manual work of skilled embryologists could lead to a “a significant increase in IVF success rates”.
“Automation in IVF is also desired because techniques like oocyte and embryo vitrification, ICSI or embryo biopsy all require high skill levels. Currently, there is a worldwide scarcity of highly trained embryologists, whereas the demand for IVF treatments is increasing.”
Two babies have already been born using the automated sperm injection robot.
The editor of RBMO, Mina Alikani, greeted the news with great enthusiasm. “This is an important achievement and a milestone. It is also welcome news to those who see the letter ‘T’ in ‘ART’ (assisted reproductive technology) as fundamental to progress in the field.”
What’s next in the field of assisted reproduction? Dr Alikani foresees a bright future with even less human intervention in the industry of creating humans: “full automation of not only ICSI but other laboratory procedures in the interest of consistency, standardization, and wider access. And that is indeed good news for patients and practitioners alike!”