Upcoming Talks

Gamete Selection in ART, trends and future prospects

Fabrizzio Horta

Tuesday 23rd April, 16:00 – 16:45

This presentation describes the current methods applied for gamete selection in ART as well as research methods under investigations such as microfluidics and artificial intelligence (AI). It is also discussed in clinical settings that may present benefits for advanced sperm selection methods, considering both male and female factors. Furthermore, new systems to improve oocyte quality prediction such as AI are also discussed.

Cooper Sponsored Symposium “Innovations in Fertility”

Tony Gordon and Julija Gorodeckaja

Tuesday 21st May, 16:00 – 16:45

Details to follow

Mapping ethical, legal & social implications of assisted technologies

Ido Alon

Tuesday 18th June, 16:00 – 16:45

In my talk, I’ll present findings from a recent study mapping two decades of research on the ethical, legal, and social implications of assisted reproductive technologies (ELSI of ART). The study, reflected in two 2023 papers, outlines the thematic and geographical spread of this research and examines patterns of collaboration. This work emphasizes the global diversity within ELSI research of ART and offers insights into potential future research paths in this critical field.

Vitrolife sponsored symposium “The latest developments in embryo culture media and the battle against oxidative stress”

Tuesday 24th September, 16:00 – 16:45

Details to follow

Blastocyst derived lactate: more than just a metabolic waste product

Kathryn Gurner

Tuesday 22nd October, 16:00 – 16:45

The blastocyst has a distinct metabolism, which results in the production of a specialised microenvironment at the implantation site characterised by high levels of lactate and reduced pH. While typically classified as a metabolic waste product, lactate can actually act as a signalling molecule to facilitate invasion of surrounding tissues in cancers, and to promote blood vessel formation in wound healing. This has led to speculation in regard to the role of lactate in reproduction (Krisher and Prather, 2012, Gardner, 2015, Ma, et al., 2020), particularly at the implantation site. This talk will consider the biological significance of the specialised microenvironment created by the blastocyst at implantation, exploring the origin and significance of blastocyst derived lactate, its functional role at the implantation site and how understanding this new mediator of the maternal fetal dialogue may help to improve implantation.

AI: the next big thing, or a glorified algorithm

Han Weerdesteyn

Tuesday 19th November, 16:00 – 16:45

This talk will review the development of a number of AI solutions in the field of IVF with their dependencies and challenges. Given the incredible speed with which the AI development is going and the talk date, more details will be provided later.

Past Talks

Transgender care in the Fertility Preservation Service

Orestis Tsonis

Tuesday 23rd January, 16:00 – 16:45

The talk will focus on specials considerations for transgender and non-binary patients in the fertility preservation service. Challenges from an admin, nursing, clinical and embryology perspective will be discussed to ensure an efficient pathway for fertility preservation in this underserved group of patients.

Laboratory automation to augment the Embryologist

Santiago Munne

Tuesday 20th February, 16:00 – 16:45

There is big variability in success rates between IVF centres due to methods and skill levels varying centre to centre, operator to operator. Most of the processes performed in the IVF centre are still manual. This variability precludes optimization, results in medical errors, and siloed (in centres) useless data sets for big data analysis.

Automation will provide repeatable and similar results centre to centre (so networks can offer a consistent product); It will augment the capacity of skilled labour, of which there is a worldwide shortage, and reduce labour cost facilitating access to infertility treatment; with machines sharing information it will provide infinite data to make better medical decisions instead of the experience of a single physician or group; and it will provide platforms with a constant baseline of unbiased results from where to innovate faster.

Most of the required innovations are coming from start up companies developing products to automatize the IVF laboratory or patient management and I will review some of their developing products.

Converting stem cells to germ cells

Sherman Silber

Tuesday 19th March, 16:00 – 16:45

This talk will review our results with in vitro oogenesis from somatic cells.  This in vitro oogenesis from skin biopsy cells has given us a better understanding of ovarian longevity and primordial follicle recruitment in humans.  We have found that primordial follicle recruitment is triggered by tissue pressure gradients in the ovary cortex and medulla.  Increased extracellular matrix tissue pressure ( density ) holds the primordial follicle in meiotic arrest, preventing recruitment, and preventing all the germ cells from going through meiosis at once and depleting the ovary rapidly of all oocytes.  Therefore recruitment occurs first in the least dense inner tissue of the ovarian cortical medullary junction.  Ovary cortex transplantation results in a rapid over recruitment of primordial follicles because of the sudden decrease in tissue pressure.  Pregnancy with increased pressure on the ovary from the expanding uterus also shuts off primordial follicle recruitment and stabilizes the otherwise relentless decline with age of AMH levels.  Removing primordial follicles from their tissue matrix results in recruitment.  Artificially produced oocytes from stem cells immediately undergo meiosis and degenerate after no fertilization, just like in vivo. However, incubating these artificially produced oocytes in high pressure incubators arrests them in meiosis.  When they are removed from the high pressure incubator and placed in an incubator with normal atmospheric pressure results in immediate resumption of meiosis.

Our studies of in vitro oogenesis in humans so far is only producing normal primordial germ cells.  In order to progress to oocytes, as has been successfully done in the mouse resulting in healthy baby mice from their mother’s tail cells, requires incubation of the PGCs in fetal granulose cells.  Therefore we have a way to go to apply this technology for clinical human use.  However, it does have immediate benefit for human clinical use in IVM ( in vitro maturation ).  There are three distinct phases to oocyte development both in vitro and in vivo.  IVD ( in vitro differentiation ) is the initial phase from early oocyte recruitment which is the longest, and is completely insensitive to gonadotropin, and regulated only by pressure and a small number of core genes.  IVG is the gonadotropin sensitive phase, which can be 7-12 days in which the GV oocyte becomes meiotically competent.  It is the same length in mice as in humans.  It is dependent on continuous exposure to FSH and LH.  Finally there is the IVM phase
(in vitro maturation) which is just on to two days and is triggered by high concentration of LH or HCG, and converts the GV oocyte to metaphase 2.  What we discovered is that every oocyte in the ovary has been exposed to IVD and IVG in vivo already.  Therefore simple exposure to high concentration of HCG or LH will allow those retrieved oocytes to become M2 oocytes in culture with HCG and FSH.