The final stage of an IVF cycle occurs when the embryos are transferred back into the body. However, this is only one of the very first steps of embryo development as their long journey is just only about to begin.
Implantation is the first stage whereby an embryo comes into contact with womb of the mother. Some embryos may fail to do this because they need support with the implantation process.
EmbryoGlue is a new embryo transfer medium, used in the final step of IVF treatment to promote the embryo implantation process. This product has been developed to closely resemble the environment in the uterus and specifically encourage successful implantation of embryos.
EmbryoGlue is not glue in the common sense, but acts as a glue by increasing the chance of implantation of the embryo to the uterus. This product helps to do this because it is enriched with the nutrients and energy sources needed to support embryo development. Most importantly however, EmbryoGlue contains a high level of a naturally occurring molecule, Hyaluronan.
Hyaluronan is a natural substance abundant in all the tissues of the body. Interestingly the level in the uterus has been found to increase dramatically at the time of implantation, decreasing to near normal levels the following day, highlighting its importance for implantation. Furthermore, it has been found that both the uterine wall and the embryo both receptors of this molecule. It is for this reason that Hyaluronan helps the embryo to implant by increasing the adhesion of the embryo to the endometrium, the lining of the womb.
During an IVF cycle the embryos are moved into the EmbryoGlue enriched medium approximately an hour before they are to be transferred back into the body to allow the Hyaluronan to bind to them. When the embryos are transferred back into the uterus it is through that the Hyaluronan in the EmbryoGlue acts like a bridge between the embryo and the uterus, having a glue-like effect.
Furthermore, the higher concentrations of Hyaluronan thickens the embryo transfer medium to be more similar to the consistency of the fluids in the uterus. This allows better mixing of the medium and the uterine fluids and is believed to minimize drifting of the embryo.
A Cochrane Review article analysing data from 13 separate studies has concluded that the use of Hyaluronan increases both clinical pregnancy rates and, more importantly, live birth rates following use of EmbryoGlue.
Other studies have demonstrated a significant increase in the number of babies brought home for couples with a wide range of infertility diagnoses, such as patients above the age of 35, patients with previously failed implantation, and patients with unexplained infertility.