In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is the process of creating embryos from oocytes (unfertilized egg cells) by fertilizing them with semen in a Petri dish. Oocytes are first collected from the ovaries of donors by ultrasound-guided follicular aspiration. They are then matured in a Petri dish and fertilized 20-24 hours later. Conventional, sexed frozen, or reverse-sorted semen may be used for fertilization. Oocytes then develop in an incubator for seven days, at which point the resulting viable embryos are transferred into recipients.
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Good-quality IVF embryos may be frozen with very acceptable results. Pregnancy rates from frozen IVF embryos in Trans Ova recipients have averaged 45-50%. If clients would like to freeze IVF embryos, Trans Ova will be very selective on the quality of embryos that are frozen. Embryos that do not qualify for freezing should be transferred fresh or discarded.
Oocytes can be collected every other week as long as the attending veterinarian believes this is best for the donor. This fact makes it possible to create a significant number of pregnancies in a given period of time.
No, Trans Ova offers a variety of protocols to set up donors for an IVF procedure. Clients work one on one with Trans Ova Client Service Representatives to find the most suitable protocol for their donor.
IVF embryos will be frozen with one of two methods: 10% glycerol or direct-thaw. Our data indicates that clients can expect very similar results with both freezing methods. Clients should visit with their client service representative about embryo freezing options before the work is performed.
While reproductively sound donors are most likely to achieve success in IVF, we have worked with donors with a variety of reproductive conditions, including those unable to achieve success in conventional ET. Donors that tend to make unfertilized or degenerate embryos are a common type with which we have had success. Many clients also appreciate the ability to create embryos from pregnant donors and younger heifers with IVF.
Frozen semen is thawed, and our semen sorter is utilized to separate the female and male sperm cells. We call this process “reverse-sorting,” because the sorting occurs after the semen has been previously frozen. The sorted semen of the desired gender is then used to fertilize the oocytes collected from donors. This process generally requires a minimum of two units of semen for a given sire.
Based on fetal-sexing of pregnancies that result from reverse-sorted semen, we achieve greater than 95% accuracy of selecting for female calves (slightly less for male calves). Although most sires will sort accurately, the process can be affected by semen quality and concentration. There is often significant variation among sires in fertility and embryo development rates.
On average, we expect fresh IVF embryos to achieve about a 45-50% pregnancy rate. This will vary somewhat depending on the time of year, type of recipient, and recipient management.
Results vary with each donor, but we typically expect to collect ~18 oocytes per aspiration. On average, 30% of these oocytes will develop into a viable embryo. Thus, we expect about 5 transferrable (Grade 1 & 2) embryos per IVF cycle on average. Donors that produce greater numbers of oocytes and oocytes of higher quality may see larger numbers of embryos produced, whereas donors with compromised reproductive conditions may have lower results. Development rate will also vary greatly depending on the sire used.
On a given sire, the development rate between conventional and reverse-sorted semen is generally very similar. However, we do see a significant decrease in development rate with pre-sexed frozen semen compared to reverse-sorted semen with many bulls. Thus, our recommendation for clients wanting to produce sexed embryos is to use reverse-sorted semen.
The general window for creating embryos from pregnant donors is 40 to 100 days of pregnancy. A large percentage of our IVF program is composed of pregnant donors that take advantage of this extended window for creating offspring. While the procedure is quite safe, clients should be aware that there is a slight risk of pregnancy loss from the manipulation of the reproductive organs.
Trans Ova Genetics is focused on developing IVF satellite locations where donors can be collected closer to their home.