DNP, Astec and Asada Ladies Clinic Develop Next-Generation Time-Lapse Incubator System for Infertility Treatment
Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP), Astec Co., Ltd. and Asada Ladies Clinic have jointly developed a next-generation time-lapse incubator system for use in infertility treatment. The new system to be launched by Astec comprises functions including the creation of an optimum culture environment for embryos during infertility treatment, the photographing and recording of the development of those embryos and the automatic detection of insemination via image recognition software.
Astec will market the newly developed system from July 1.
The incidence of infertility treatment in Japan is increasing against the backdrop of a variety of factors, including the delaying of marriage until later in life. Embryos obtained via in vitro fertilization are cultivated for several days in an incubator that maintains virtually the same environment as the womb. Following this, superior embryos are selected and transferred to the womb.
During cultivation, it is necessary to periodically remove embryos from the incubator and observe them with a microscope in order to confirm that they are developing smoothly, but this not only places a major responsibility on embryologists, but also runs the risk of exposing them to the open air, and exerting a negative impact on development.
The partners have successfully developed a next-generation time-lapse incubator system that is more compact than currently available models. It also maintains a culture environment effective in the development of embryos, while photo data-driven deep learning boosts the efficiency of observation work.
[Next-Generation Time-Lapse Incubator System]
The new system was developed based on needs expressed by the Asada Ladies Clinic vis-à-vis currently available time-lapse incubators. In reply to this request, Astec developed the incubator-proper and DNP the software for automatically recognizing the pronucleus of the embryo, after the sperm enters the ovum, but before the genetic material of the sperm and egg fuse.
Time-Lapse Incubator (Body)
The dimensions of the newly developed incubator are 382mm in width, depth of 591mm and height of 210mm, and achieve significant space savings compared with currently available equipment. This makes it possible for institutions with restricted space to easily introduce the equipment by stacking one unit on top of another.
Time-lapse incubator / Stacked image
Embryo Culture Dish
With the droplet culture method that is the general cultivation method in use, group culture that cultivates multiple embryos in a drop culture medium in order to promote embryo development is cited as desirable. With currently available dishes, however, this has not been possible.
The dedicated dish used in the new system has been designed to provide the optimal culture environment for embryos. It is easy to individually manage embryos via multiple micro-wells, which also allow for the establishment of group culture.
Software for Recognizing the Pronucleus
Embryologists confirm the pronucleus in order to determine whether each of the multiple embryos from the subject has been fertilized in a normal manner. This, however, requires skill and time. By using the deep learning technology included in the new software, it is possible to boost the efficiency of the observation task through the automatic recognition of the pronucleus, thereby reducing the burden on the embryologist.
[Reference Pricing (on a Pre-tax Basis)]
- Complete system: 11 million Yen
- Contents: Time-lapse incubator (body), NAS and LAN Hub, Image creation and pronucleus recognition software, Dedicated computer and monitor
- NB: Embryo cultivation dish to be marketed separately
The partners will market the new system to infertility clinics, aiming for sales of 50 units in FY2020.