New sensor to aid in vitro fertilization

January 5, 2016 by Tony Crawshaw, Macquarie University

The tricky process of monitoring early-stage embryos during the in vitro fertilization process could become much easier with the development of a new fibre-optic sensor that can measure concurrently, hydrogen peroxide and pH (acidity-alkalinity concentrations) in solution.

The sensor, the first of its kind, was reported in the research journal 'Sensors' and consists of a single , the tip of which has been functionalised with a reactive fluorescent coating.

Lead author on the paper, Malcolm Purdey, Researcher at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) and the University of Adelaide, believes the sensor has the potential to be used across a broad range of biological applications, but that it is particularly well suited to the IVF industry.

"Unregulated production of by an embryo, as well as fluctuating levels of pH, can indicate embryonic stress, impacting ," said Purdey.

"Our state-of-the-art sensor is a single strand of optical fibre that is completely non-invasive. It could be placed right next to the embryo causing no disruption to its development, monitoring critical stages of the IVF process."

Purdey notes that currently, a number of issues exist in monitoring the health of an embryo.

"Current clinical examinations are solely visually based. Even recent prototype would need multiple fibres, detectors and light sources to be hooked up", he said.

"Our dual sensor has the potential to monitor multiple embryonic parameters objectively, with a single piece of technology. We'll be able to better understand the dynamic processes taking place, at this, the very earliest stage of life."

According to Purdey, the sensor also has the potential for broader application as well.

"Hydrogen peroxide is an indicator of cell stress and possible illness. In the future, our sensor could be used inside of the body, to examine cells in the arteries to look for evidence of vascular disease. It could also be used to aid cancer detection too."

Purdey concluded, "It's a really exciting time for our research - we believe our sensor, or some future form of it, will have a significant impact in helping improve the lives of Australians."

Explore further: Versatile single-chip sensor for ion detection in fluids

More information: Malcolm Purdey et al. A Dual Sensor for pH and Hydrogen Peroxide Using Polymer-Coated Optical Fibre Tips, Sensors (2015). DOI: 10.3390/s151229893

Related Stories

Versatile single-chip sensor for ion detection in fluids

November 24, 2015

Imec and Holst Centre (set-up by imec and TNO) have demonstrated a prototype of a single-chip electrochemical sensor for simultaneous detection of multiple ions in fluids. The demonstrator paves the way to small-sized and ...

A focus on fatty eggs and fertility

December 11, 2015

A new study of fat levels in oocytes (immature ova or eggs) has the potential to transform IVF practice, benefiting the dairy industry, and women seeking assisted reproductive treatment too.

Applications of optical fibre for sensors

March 26, 2015

Mikel Bravo-Acha's PhD thesis has focused on the applications of optical fibre as a sensor. In the course of his research, conducted at the NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre, he monitored a sensor fitted to optical fibre ...

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

Revealing the rules behind virus scaffold construction

March 19, 2019

A team of researchers including Northwestern Engineering faculty has expanded the understanding of how virus shells self-assemble, an important step toward developing techniques that use viruses as vehicles to deliver targeted ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.