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Egg Chamber

Maximising the potential of every egg to make a baby.

Working with Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust and Labman Automation, we have developed a new device to support IVF. It collects and transfers eggs while maintaining a steady temperature and pH.

The challenge

There are 60,000 IVF treatments each year in the UK alone. While the technique offers hope to thousands of couples, it has changed little over the past 40 years.

Egg quality is believed to be the main determinant of embryo outcome in In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). But the developmental potential of the egg can easily be damaged by the culture environment, e.g. temperature, pH and toxic factors in the air.

Under current practices of transvaginal aspiration, follicular fluid and eggs are drawn into a test tube. This exposes them to air, where evaporation and associated cooling occur. Then it is carried to a laboratory and poured into a petri dish. This creates further evaporation and related loss of latent heat results in even more cooling. Once in the dish the eggs are covered with a layer of oil to prevent evaporation but by then the damage may already have been done.

There is a need to provide an environment that mimics human physiological conditions. This can maximise the potential of every egg to make a baby.

The solution

We have developed a device that provides an enclosed system for egg collection. It keeps eggs in an airtight chamber attached to a pump. The pump maintains a constant flow of fluid over the eggs. This:

  • maintains physiological pH
  • reduces the risk of contamination
  • maintains eggs at body temperature during transfer to the laboratory

Since there is no contact with the theatre or laboratory air, the risks from exposure to volatile organic compounds are removed. This enables the collection of more eggs at higher quality because they are more protected from damage.

Intellectual Property

This technology is protected by patent applications filed in US, Japan, UK, Canada, Australia, China, Brazil, North Korea and India.

  • title: IVF egg collection chamber
  • UK patent application no: GB201309766\
  • filing Date: 31st May 2013; entered the National Phase on 6th January 2016
  • applicant: Labman Automation Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University of Newcastle upon Tyne


Dr Geraint Lewis: