In Vitro Embryo Production with Commercial IVP Media and Culture Systems: How to Tackle the Future?

Written by Founder, Prof. Jeremy Thompson.

As the Founder of ART Lab Solutions and a dedicated researcher in the field of cattle embryo production (IVP) for the past 45 years, I have witnessed remarkable advancements. It is gratifying to see IVP become the preferred method for disseminating high-value female genetics from OPU-collected oocytes and for providing viable cattle embryos for research and teaching through abattoir-sourced ovaries. 

The journey towards commercial cattle IVP success has been challenging. Although we have made significant progress, there remains uncertainty in achieving good pregnancy rates compared to Multiple Ovulation and Embryo Transfer (MOET). The cattle IVP field faces unique challenges, the three most significant identified are: 

  1. Oocyte Maturation: Compared to human clinic, where fully mature MII oocytes are collected, cattle IVP specialists recovers immature oocytes from either lightly or unstimulated ovarian follicles. In vitro maturation (IVM) remains a critical bottleneck in embryo production. While human IVM systems, such as the CAPA system, have achieved reliability, we still struggle to prevent germinal vesicle breakdown beyond approximately 9 hours using pre-maturation systems in cattle. 
  2. Variation in Fertilisation and Embryo Development Rates: Unlike the approximately 70% success rate of intracytoplasmic

    sperm injection (ICSI) in clinical IVF cycles, ICSI does not work as effectively in cattle. Consequently, we face highly variable fertilisation and embryo development rates between different bulls.

  3. Thaw-in-Straw Vitrification: Warming in the field remains a challenge. The “thaw in the straw” method of slow freezing and thawing is not as suitable for IVP embryos compared to MOET-derived embryos. Further research is needed to address high lipid content in the IVF embryo, ice crystal formation and survivability.

The call to action for researchers is to focus on these challenges as we work towards advancing IVP technologies.

At ART Lab Solutions, we are committed to addressing these top three challenges through internal research and development. We highly value our partnerships with commercial IVP laboratories, which help us understand industry pain points and drive our R&D efforts.

By collaborating with us, you can be at the forefront of new product and protocol innovations. For more information, please contact us at

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