From Alexia Chatziparasidou, B.Sc., M.Sc., Sr. Clinical Embryologist, Embryolab’s Laboratory Director
IVF is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. It made its appearance for the first time in 1978 and overturned the data until then. Science had then the way to succeed fertilization outside a mother’s body and lead to pregnancy and childbirth! Since then, there have been many, decisive steps and overall successes that have led the IVF laboratory to a new era.
Developments in technology
The evolution of technology and electronic systems has drastically changed the way embryos are observed and selected. Today, clinical embryologists have state of the art microscopes which enable them to observe oocytes, embryos and sperm cells thoroughly. The new technology has greatly improved the ability to isolate and recognize gametes and embryos that are more likely to lead to pregnancy.
Developments in genetics
The genetics sector has undergone tremendous advancement both in terms of knowledge and technique, affecting significantly in vitro fertilization. In the recent past, both IVF and genetics sciences have joined forces and created the Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis. Thanks to this pairing, couples with increased risk of having a child with a genetic load have been able to screen their embryos and transfer only the healthy ones!
Developments in Cryobiology
Nowadays, the vitrification method ensures, for the first time, safe cryopreservation for oocytes and embryos and leads IVF to more efficient and safer procedures.
Changes in Legislation
Along with the scientific developments, it has been universally acknowledged that all representatives of the field should work and communicate among them, under a common context and with a common code of communication. This resulted in the formation of international bodies, specifications, guidelines for the proper operation of Assisted Reproduction Units and a legislative framework. A modern in vitro fertilization lab should operate within these frameworks and should also have all the mechanisms that confirm its safe and effective operation.
What to keep in your mind
The contemporary in vitro fertilization laboratory is very little reminiscent of the first lab back in 1978. Today it is estimated that more than 8 million children were born using IVF. Thanks to this science which never stops evolving and faithfully serving life for 40 years, millions of couples around the world can now hope to be able to become parents.