Lab+Life Scientist Nov 2014

Page 24


Temperature monitoring of frozen embryos, sperm and ova Infertility is a growing problem, not only in Australia, but around the world.

According to IVF Australia, 15% of couples of reproductive

and embryos, and the care and management of these

age are affected by infertility because of either genetic,

frozen eggs, embryos and sperm for patients. Most of the

medical or surgical reasons where the cause remains

samples are irreplaceable and any loss will be a tragedy

unknown. Fortunately, technology has improved

for the couple involved.

significantly in recent years and has allowed in-vitro

IVF Australia’s Scientific Director, Dr Simon Cooke,

fertilisation (IVF) to become an efficient way of

is responsible for all the NSW laboratories on behalf of

conceiving a baby.

their patients, which includes six embryo labs, nine sperm

IVF is basically the process where an egg is fertilised

labs and 85 liquid nitrogen (LN) tanks.

by sperm outside the body. Once this has taken place and

All freezing requires samples to be stored at -196°C

the egg is fertilised, it becomes an embryo, and can be

and Dr Cooke said specialists at “IVF clinics have to

grown in culture for up to six days and then transferred

manually check the depth of the liquid nitrogen, and but

into the woman’s uterus. If successful, this should result

most laboratories have no electronic monitoring devices

in a pregnancy for the couple.

on their liquid nitrogen tanks, and no knowledge of the exact temperature on the inside of the tanks at all stages of storage, especially on the very rare occasions if there is a problem with one of the tanks”. However, with the introduction of Testo’s automated temperature monitoring system Saveris - this process has become a lot easier. “All tanks are now electronically monitored, and we can set alarm limits that have defined criteria, based on the exact temperatures as monitored inside the tanks, where the samples are stored. Saveris also monitors the software and hardware related to the tank,” Dr Cooke explained. The Saveris system can measure temperatures from -200°C up to 1760°C, as well as humidity. Dr Cooke said he was recently able to check the real-time LN tank temperatures using his mobile phone, all the way from a New Zealand ski field. “Saveris is a wireless system which is a huge advantage to us - it means there are no cables and

The success rate of this process is increasing as well.

it’s much safer for staff around the tanks. The software

Nine in 10 (90%) patients are pregnant within three cycles

also tells you about the integrity of the hardware related

and more than 40% after just one cycle. This is higher

to the tank monitoring,” he stated.

than when the initial technology was introduced more than 30 years ago.

“Saveris is a very efficient and worthwhile system. Patients are placing a huge amount of trust in us to

One of the leading companies in this field is IVF

look after their embryos and sperm. It’s a small price to

Australia. With over 34 fertility specialists across NSW,

pay for the quality control of our liquid nitrogen tanks.”

the IVF and pathology company boasts the first IVF baby conceived and born in the state back in 1983. However, one of the main responsibilities as embryo

culture methods get better is the freezing of eggs, sperm

24 | LAB+LIFE SCIENTIST - November 2014 |