Embryo Vitrification at Zouves Fertility Center (San Francisco Bay Area)

Volume 13-1

Egg Vitrification… The New “Flash Freeze”

A new technique for egg and embryo cryopreservation has recently been described and perfected in Japan. This technique, called vitrification or “changing into glass” is similar to what is commonly known as “flash freeze.” Because fewer ice crystals are formed within cells with vitrification than with slow freeze, survival rates are higher. Two years ago we at Zouves Fertility Center, started using the vitrification process exclusively for Day 5 and 6 embryos. With this new technique of cryopreservation known as the Kitazato Cryotop vitrification method, post-thaw survival rates have increased dramatically to over 90%. Since the beginning of 2009, we have moved completely to vitrification for all embryos including day one, day three and as before, our day five and day six embryos.

Embryo Vitrification > Success at Our New San Francisco Bay Area Lab

Human embryos have been frozen and thawed since the mid-1980 s but have resulted in lower pregnancy rates than those obtained when using fresh embryos. The traditional “slow freeze” method of cryopreserving embryos involves moving fresh embryos directly from room temperature to -6.5 degrees C (20 degrees F). At this point “seeding,” or the induction of ice crystal formation, occurs before further slow freezing to -38 degrees C (-36 degrees F). Finally the embryos are plunged directly into liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees C (-321 degrees F.)

The breakthrough of vitrification allows us to reliably store eggs that can then be thawed and fertilized at a later stage resulting in embryos and ongoing pregnancies. We have an ongoing pregnancy from the first frozen thawed egg procedure that we have performed. This breakthrough has huge implications for women to be able to bank their unfertilized eggs allowing them to suspend the biological clock and to have their own genetic children at an age when their fresh eggs may have deteriorated or even when they have become menopausal.

Up until this time, many woman have had to make the very difficult choice to postpone childbearing while they pursued a career, only to find that when the time became right for having a family, the eggs were of less good quality or even no longer available due to the perimenopause. The playing field between the sexes has now been leveled with the availability of reliable vitrification of eggs and women will now be able to proactively store their genetic material so that they may have children with their own “donor eggs” later on in life when they have identified a partner or else with donated sperm which could be either anonymous or known.

The availability of reliable vitrification is probably the single most important advance in assisted reproduction since the introduction of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in the mid-90s and this should allow reproductive choice for women that did not exist in the past.

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Zouves Fertility Center Has Moved to Foster City, CA

Zouves Fertility Center recently completed the move from Daly City on February 28 and we now reside in our new offices at 1241 East Hillsdale Blvd, Suite 100 in Foster City in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Thanks to extensive planning, the move went without a hitch and the first egg retrieval procedures were performed on March 12th. Happily, the results of the first four egg retrieval procedures show that all recipients are pregnant. This is a testament to all of the hard work that went into constructing our new laboratory which is truly state-of-the-art. We are also pleased to state that before our first egg retrieval procedure, the air quality in our new laboratory received a Class 5 rating, which is “clean room” standard. Many thanks to Dr. Frank Barnes and his team of embryologists.

Construction within the Laboratory and operating and recovery suites has been accomplished avoiding toxic and volatile chemicals and the air purification system or HVAC has been specifically located on the roof of our building and is dedicated to supporting this area so that there is absolute control of the temperature, pressure and air quality within this space. The new clinic is located within 11,000 ft.2 of contiguous space and the flow dynamics have been engineered to decrease stress and promote a feeling of tranquility to maximize the chances of success with assisted reproduction. Attached please find some views of our new center.