High-resolution Imaging and 3d Elastography of Embryos: a Path to Viability Assessment

Audrey Ellerbee
Home Organization
Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University
Arnaud Dubois
Visiting Organization
Institut d'Optique, Palaiseau, France

The phenomenon of reproduction is fundamentally important to any growing society; yet, many of the details surrounding the “mystery of life” still elude even the scientific and engineering communities. This reality is all too painful for the nearly 10% of married, child-bearing age American and French couples who experience problems with fertility and turn to assisted reproductive technologies, despite the fact that they boast high costs (> $12,000 USD) and low success rates (< 50%). The goal of this work is to produce new hardware that will enable us to investigate fundamental questions about changes to the physical properties of the embryo following fertilization and during early development that enable us to predict viability. We propose to develop a new type of optical microscope that can image live, intact embryos in three dimensions without staining as well as an imaging chamber that allows us to position the embryo reliably within the desired field of view and apply known amounts of force while imaging the resulting deformation. Images of the deformed embryo will be analyzed to determine information about its optical and mechanical properties.

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