Med Tech

Fujifilm Picks Up AI program for Guiding IVF Procedures

Looking to bring artificial intelligence to the field of in vitro fertilization, Fujifilm has picked up a program developed by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital designed to boost the procedure’s success.

Through its Irvine Scientific subsidiary, which focuses on assisted reproductive technologies and cell culture media, Fujifilm plans to offer non-exclusive licenses of the technology to other fertility companies that wish to employ AI and image-based tools in their work.

The software analyzes pictures of human embryos to help find the healthiest candidates for implantation. The technology requires no specialized imaging equipment and can be easily merged into a company’s existing workflow, according to Fujifilm.

“Considering how important an IVF cycle is to the patient, each step in the process is critical,” said the software’s co-inventor Charles Bormann, the IVF laboratory director at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Embryologists make dozens of decisions that impact the success of that cycle,” Bormann said. “With assistance from our AI system, embryologists will have a valuable tool to use in their effort to identify and select embryos with the highest chance of pregnancy.”

The team of researchers previously had their work published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, showing their AI programs could work even when using low-quality images acquired from inexpensive portable microscope systems-including in evaluating human embryos, quantifying different types of sperm and diagnosing infections in the blood.

“Tools to assist with embryo selection are only the beginning. Development and testing of applications to support the selection of oocytes, sperm and genetic assessment are in progress,” said Steve Geimer, executive director of Fujifilm Irvine Scientific’s medical business unit. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child.

During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to a uterus. One full cycle of IVF takes about three weeks. Sometimes these steps are split into different parts and the process can take longer.

IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. The procedure can be done using a couple’s own eggs and sperm. Or IVF may involve eggs, sperm or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. In some cases, a gestational carrier -someone who has an embryo implanted in the uterus -might be used

Your chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on many factors, such as your age and the cause of infertility. In addition, IVF can be time-consuming, expensive and invasive. If more than one embryo is transferred to the uterus, IVF can result in a pregnancy with more than one fetus (multiple pregnancy).

Your doctor can help you understand how IVF works, the potential risks and whether this method of treating infertility is right for you.

Why it’s done

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a treatment for infertility or genetic problems. If IVF is performed to treat infertility, you and your partner might be able to try less-invasive treatment options before attempting IVF, including fertility drugs to increase the production of eggs or intrauterine insemination -a procedure in which sperm are placed directly in the uterus near the time of ovulation.

Sometimes, IVF is offered as a primary treatment for infertility in women over age 40.

IVF can also be done if you have certain health conditions like:

1.      Fallopian tube damage or blockage. Fallopian tube damage or blockage makes it difficult for an egg to be fertilized or for an embryo to travel to the uterus.

2.      Ovulation disorders. If ovulation is infrequent or absent, fewer eggs are available for fertilization.

3.      Endometriosis. Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus implants and grows outside of the uterus -often affecting the function of the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes.

4.      Uterine fibroids. Fibroids are benign tumors in the uterus. They are common in women in their 30s and 40s. Fibroids can interfere with implantation of the fertilized egg.

5.      Previous tubal sterilization or removal. Tubal ligation is a type of sterilization in which the fallopian tubes are cut or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy. If you wish to conceive after tubal ligation, IVF may be an alternative to tubal ligation reversal surgery.

6.      Impaired sperm production or function. Below-average sperm concentration, weak movement of sperm (poor mobility), or abnormalities in sperm size and shape can make it difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg. If semen abnormalities are found, a visit to an infertility specialist might be needed to see if there are correctable problems or underlying health concerns.

7.      Unexplained infertility. Unexplained infertility means no cause of infertility has been found despite evaluation for common causes.

8.      A genetic disorder. If you or your partner is at risk of passing on a genetic disorder to your child, you may be a candidate for preimplantation genetic testing -a procedure that involves IVF. After the eggs are harvested and fertilized, they’re screened for certain genetic problems, although not all genetic problems can be found. Embryos that don’t contain identified problems can be transferred to the uterus.

9.      Fertility preservation for cancer or other health conditions. If you’re about to start cancer treatment -such as radiation or chemotherapy -that could harm your fertility, IVF for fertility preservation may be an option. Women can have eggs harvested from their ovaries and frozen in an unfertilized state for later use. Or the eggs can be fertilized and frozen as embryos for future use.




Dr Shilpa Subramanian

Dr. Shilpa Subramanian is a MDS, Periodontist and currently manages Global Pharmacovigilance and Medical Affairs Operations at a Healthcare company in Mumbai. She is passionate about staying ahead of the curve in clinical and non-clinical advances in the field of pharma and healthcare

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