Implantation potential: why is your innovative solution needed?

Learn about the current advancements in improving implantation potential and how the MIP can help

Embryo implantation is a wellorchestrated process and its success relies on the presence of a healthy embryo, a receptive endometrium, appropriate embryo-endometrial crosstalk and adequate maternal immune protection.1 Despite the significant advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART), the implantation rate following in vitro fertilization – embryo transfer (IVF-ET) remains relatively low, which is a big impediment to successful pregnancy.2 In particular, pregnancy loss following ART is attributed to an implantation failure rate of 50%.2

To address this issue, research over the last few years has focused on identifying innovative ways of improving endometrium receptivity and embryo invasion, in order to achieve successful implantation. However, there is not adequate support for these innovations to reach patients.

What advances focus on the endometrium?

One of the most important factors that regulates the complex process of implantation is the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), produced by the pre-implantation embryo and the endometrial cells.3 hCG modulates tissue remodelling that is essential for angiogenesis, placentation, implantation, receptivity and tolerance and that it also regulates maternal immune response during implantation.Therefore, administration of hCG appears to be a beneficial strategy for improving IVF outcomes. Navali et al. in 2016 showed that intrauterine administration of hCG immediately after oocyte retrieval improves pregnancy outcomes.3 According to a recent meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials intrauterine hCG injection before embryo transfer achieves higher implantation potential and live birth rates (LBRs), with the outcome being timing- and dosage-dependent.2

Another emerging method for improving implantation potential in women with recurrent implantation failure (RIF) due to refractory endometrium is the treatment with autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP).1 The PRP contains factors, including the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and transforming growth factor (TGF), that exert favourable proliferative, anti-apoptotic effects in the endometrium endothelieum.1 Notably, in 2019 a pilot study by Madhavan et al. challenged the fact that intrauterine administration of PRP improves the implantation rates in patients undergoing frozen embryo transfer.1

The use of autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) through intrauterine administration, to treat women with RIF is also being widely discussed.4 PBMCs consist of a mix of T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes and monocytes that have the ability to control the production of several cytokines and have demonstrated effectiveness in supporting blastocyst invasion and endometrium receptivity in vitro and optimised IVF outcomes in vivo.4 Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have yielded inconsistent data, with regards to the correlation of PBMCs use and live birth rates in IVF, therefore further studies are required to validate or disprove the hypothesis.4,5

What advances focus on the embryo culture?

Advances are seen not only in the clinic, but also in the embryology lab. Metabolomic studies have helped to understand the needs of the pre-implantation embryo at each development stage and contributed to remarkable progress in the development of culture media for ART.6 This knowledge offers the benefit of culture media optimization in order to develop embryos with high implantation potential.

Numerous aspects of embryo culture can impact implantation potential, including temperature, sequential vs one-step culturing system, dynamic cultures and culture media composition.7 A Cochrane review suggested an improvement in clinical pregnancy rates after the addition of the compound hyaluronan into the transfer medium, however the results are inconsistent and a retrospective case-control study challenged this approach.8,9

Moreover, a randomized clinical trial from 2013 provided evidence that the addition of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) to embryo culture medium benefits ongoing implantation and results in a significant increase in survival of transferred embryos to week 12 and live birth.10 These findings indicate that GM-CSF may be particularly efficacious in women with previous miscarriage.10 Regarding culture consistency, it is also noteworthy that several studies indicate improved embryo development, implantation and pregnancy rates in reduced oxygen conditions.7

How can the MIP help?

There is a plethora of advancements in improving implantation rates in ART, either by focusing on the endometrium or by optimizing the culture media, and thereby high potential to transform clinical practice. However, the number of those innovations that make it into the clinic remains low.

Researchers may not receive adequate support and funding and if they feel too disconnected from each other, this prevents collaboration. Even the best idea in the world will not be developed into a product for patients without the right resources and expertise.

The MIP supports the development of such technologies and offers both the right network and the enabling technologies to meet such a major medical need.

Apply today to join the Medical Innovation Program for human reproduction!


1.         Madhavan A, Naidu P, Rani K, Kaur J, Mahajan N. Intrauterine autologous platelet-rich plasma therapy to improve implantation rates in patients undergoing frozen embryo transfer: A pilot study. Onco Fertil J. 2019. doi:10.4103/tofj.tofj_11_18

2.         Gao MX, Jiang XY, Li B, et al. Intrauterine injection of human chorionic gonadotropin before embryo transfer can improve in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer outcomes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Fertil Steril. 2019;112(1):89-97.e1. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2019.02.027

3.         Navali N, Gassemzadeh A, Farzadi L, et al. Intrauterine administration of hCG immediately after oocyte retrieval and the outcome of ICSI: A randomized controlled trial. Hum Reprod. 2016. doi:10.1093/humrep/dew236

4.         Maleki-Hajiagha A, Razavi M, Rezaeinejad M, et al. Intrauterine administration of autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells in patients with recurrent implantation failure: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Reprod Immunol. 2019. doi:10.1016/j.jri.2019.01.001

5.         Yakin K, Oktem O, Urman B. Intrauterine administration of peripheral mononuclear cells in recurrent implantation failure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2019. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-40521-w

6.         Gruber I, Klein M. Embryo culture media for human IVF: which possibilities exist? J Turkish Ger Gynecol Assoc. 2011. doi:10.5152/jtgga.2011.25

7.         Swain JE, Carrell D, Cobo A, Meseguer M, Rubio C, Smith GD. Optimizing the culture environment and embryo manipulation to help maintain embryo developmental potential. Fertil Steril. 2016. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.01.035

8.         Bontekoe S, Heineman MJ, Johnson N, Blake D. Adherence compounds in embryo transfer media for assisted reproductive technologies. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007421.pub3

9.         Chun S, Seo JE, Rim YJ, Joo JH, Lee YC, Koo YH. Efficacy of hyaluronan-rich transfer medium on implantation and pregnancy rates in fresh and frozen-thawed blastocyst transfers in Korean women with previous implantation failure. Obstet Gynecol Sci. 2016. doi:10.5468/ogs.2016.59.3.201

10.       Ziebe S, Loft A, Povlsen BB, et al. A randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effect of granulocyte- macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in embryo culture medium for in vitro fertilization. Fertil Steril. 2013. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.12.043

August 2019