Metabolomics

Definition - What does Metabolomics mean?

Metabolomics is the identification and quantification of small molecules known as metabolites. These small molecules may be found in cells, tissues or a biological fluid. It is an emerging method of analysis that has been used in in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures to enable selection of the healthiest embryos to transfer back to the uterus.

Data suggests that embryos that have the highest likelihood of implantation alter their environment in a way that is different from embryos that will not result in pregnancy. It is this difference that metabolomic profiling attempts to detect. Molecules that are measured include glucose, lactate, pyruvate or amino acid levels in an embryo culture. Pyruvate uptake by embryos in culture may be a possible marker for embryo vitality and growth potential.

FertilitySmarts explains Metabolomics

The last stage of in vitro fertilization involves taking a fertilized egg, which has been grown in a laboratory environment to form an embryo and transferring it into a uterus. Metabolomics can be used to help select the embryos that are most likely to implant after the transfer.

During the metabolomic procedure, the embryo itself is not tested, but rather the metabolites in the liquid around the embryo known as the culture media. This offers a non-invasive method of testing the embryo as an embryo biopsy is not required. A metabolic profile is produced which measures the performance of the embryo. It is composed of the end result of all the pathways and reactions that keep the embryo alive and developing. Metabolomic profiling has extensive technical requirements that make it difficult to offer on-site at most clinics. In addition, the specifics of how to assess the fluid require further investigation. Metabolomics for embryo assessment is still considered an emerging field.

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