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Senior Lecturer Lynsey Cree was awarded the Faculty Research Development  Funding (FRDF) Project Grant focusing on the role of extracellular vesicles in IVF and pregnancy.

IVF offers infertile couples the best chance of having a baby, but the success rates remain low at approximately 30%, with rates falling further in women of advanced maternal age. IVF failure occurs largely due to 2 reasons, the embryo is of poor quality and has a chromosomal abnormality or the maternal endometrial cells are unreceptive to the embryo. In this study the aim is to assess a new mechanism that some morphologically high quality embryos are failing to release the correct signals to aid the embryo-endometrial cross-talk prior to implantation. We believe extracellular vesicles will play an important role in this cross-talk, but isolating these vesicles is challenging as the numbers of vesicles released from the embryo are low. To aid this isolation we are developing a microfluidic device to selectively target embryonic EVs in the embryo culture media. This novel device will allow us to assess the differences in the signals released from embryos that implant versus those that don’t.