A fertility clinic helped to conceive the first baby born in the UK following the use of a device which allows doctors to record images of a developing embryo in the days following fertilisation, prior to implantation.
Isabella Potter was born following IVF provided by CARE Fertility in Manchester. Her mother, Gemma Potter, said: 'To see her as an embryo was so special. Up until now no parent has seen their child at that magical moment of life'.
'We will show her the time lapse video when she is older along with all the pregnancy scans'.
The EmbryoScope, developed by biotechnology company Unisense FertiliTech, is an incubator with an in-built microscope and camera that allows embryologists to observe and record a video of the developing embryo for up to five days. The device allows embryologists to better select embryos for implantation in IVF, it is claimed.
It is being trialled in the UK by CARE Fertility and 74 other women are reportedly pregnant after having used the technology. In total, 1,500 embryos from 200 patients have already been monitored.
Previous IVF technology has required embryos to be removed from an incubator to be viewed and assessed under a microscope. However, it can be detrimental to remove embryos from the optimal conditions of the incubator and it also means that the embryo can only be observed once a day. This gives embryologists only a snap shot of the embryo at one time and they then may miss any abnormal changes.
Alison Campbell, Director of Embryology at CARE Fertility Manchester, told the Telegraph: 'The ability to study these images in a closed system allows us to more accurately select the most viable embryo for transfer into the patient'.
Early studies have indicated improved pregnancy rates after using the technique. Speaking to ITV, Campbell said: 'We've seen a dramatic improvement in pregnancy rates - 44 percent uplift in pregnancy rates. I've been an embryologist for 20 years and this is the greatest advancement I've seen in that time'.
The procedure comes at an additional cost to each cycle of IVF. Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, Campbell explained: 'We have to add on £750 to every treatment cycle if the patient wishes to have the EmbryoScope'. IVF can already cost as much as £8,000 per cycle.