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News from ICRM’s Embryology Lab

The laboratory at the Idaho Center for Reproductive Medicine has increased our number of incubators. We are excited to bring this new technology into our lab! In the past, incubators have had a very large culture chamber. The culture area in the new Minc incubators is very small. This small area for culturing adds some very big benefits to the quality of embryos grown.
The warmed gas mixture is constantly flowing through the humidification flask and into the chambers. This leads to a very quick return to the desired culture environment after the lid has been opened and closed. Equilibration is said to occur in one minute. The older style incubators took more than 30 minutes to bring the temperature, humidity, and gas concentrations back to desired levels.
The Minc incubators offer a heated base and lid to ensure that temperatures stabilize quickly. There are impressions in the metal of the base which fit the three main types of dishes used for culture. These impressions allow for the heated base to be in direct contact with the bottom of the dish.
The culture environment will now be one of reduced oxygen tension. What does that mean? That means the embryos will be exposed to less oxygen. In the presence of high (atmospheric) levels of oxygen, production of reactive oxygen species is possible. These reactive oxygen species, or free radicals, can lead to poor development of the embryos.
The older style incubators received a known concentration of CO2 in the chamber, which was mixed with room air. The Minc incubators require a triple gas mixture (CO2, O2, and Nitrogen) that flows into the culture chamber. The final concentration of oxygen in this culture system drops from just over 20% down to 5%. This will greatly reduce the potential for free radical production in the culture media.
These new Minc incubators have been thoroughly checked and quality controlled. We are very excited to use them for our November 2011 IVF cycle!