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Recent developments in human oocyte, embryo and blastocyst vitrification: where are we now?

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      Abstract

      The target of any cryopreservation procedure should be to ensure high survival rates of living cells after thawing. Two important parameters determine the success of any cryopreservation protocol: the manner in which cells regain equilibrium in response to cooling, and the speed of freezing (cooling rate). Slow-rate freezing protocols result in the formation of ice crystals during cooling and warming. Vitrification, in which high cooling rates in combination with a high concentration of cryoprotectant are used, does not produce any ice crystals during cooling and warming. However, there is a practical limit to the attainable cooling speed, and also a biological limit to the concentration of cryoprotectant tolerated by the cells during vitrification. Although post-warming survival depends on the species, the developmental stage and the quality of the embryos being vitrified, it seems clear that vitrification methods are increasingly successful and might be a better method than slow cooling procedures in the field of cryobiology. Many of the potential problems and benefits underlying vitrification as a method of choice for embryo cryopreservation in clinical embryology will be discussed in this review.

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      Biography

      Juergen Liebermann obtained his MS degree in Agricultural Biology (1990) and PhD in Agricultural Science at the Technical University of Munich-Weihenstephan (1995). His PhD reflected his interest in animal reproduction and physiology. In 1995 he joined the IVF laboratory at University of Magdeburg as research fellow and 1996 he held a position as director of the IVF laboratory at University of Wuerzburg. In early 2000 he took up his present appointment as senior research fellow at Shady Grove Fertility RSC with Dr Michael Tucker as Scientific Director, Rockville, Maryland, USA. Now his present position is director of the IVF laboratory at the University of Wuerzburg. He is a member of SSR, ASRM, ESHRE, and ASA. His research interests include every aspect of embryology, and ultra-rapid cooling methods, especially vitrification.