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Embryo 'Squishiness' May Indicate Better Sign Of Fertility Success

First Posted: Feb 25, 2016 05:20 PM EST

New findings published in Nature Communications suggest that embryo "squishing" could improve IVF success rates, researchers say. This would be particularly helpful for couples hoping to conceive via in-vitro fertilization, as only about 30 percent of embryos implanted for in-vitro fertilization result in the birth of a healthy baby.

During the study, researchers from Stanford University applied a small amount of pressure to mouse eggs just an hour following fertilization, noting how much the eggs deformed. Then, they were placed in a nurturing liquid and re-examined at the blastocyst stage, according to a news release. Researchers noted that the eggs that provided a certain amount of push back were the ones that were more likely to result in healthy, symmetrical embryos.

Then, researchers were able to create a predictive computer-based model of the egg's squishiness that could predict with a 90 percent accuracy wither a fertilized egg would then develop into a well-formed blastocyst--otherwie known as a mammalian blastula in which some differentiation of cells has occurred. 

From there, the embryos were transferred to female mice and based on squishiness, these embryos were about 50 percent more likely to result in a live birth than those classified as viable using conventional techniques, according to Fox News

"Although cancer and other diseases involved stiff tumors or tissues, our colleagues have been surprised that we can gain so much information from this simple little mechanical test," Dr. Barry Behr, director of Stanford's IVF laboratory, said. "It is still surprising to think that simple squeezing an embryo the day it was fertilized can tell you if it will survive and ultimately become a baby." 

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