SBIR Phase I: Non-invasive method for bovine embryo viability assessment using near-infrared spectroscopy.

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
ViaGen Inc.
12357A Riata Trace Parkway, Suite 100, Austin, TX, 78727-7115
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Irina Polejaeva
(512) 401-5900
Business Contact:
Irina Polejaeva
(512) 401-5900
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is focused on developing an innovative algorithm for non-invasive bovine embryo viability assessment using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR). Assisted reproductive technologies have been developed by the livestock industry to obtain large numbers of offspring from genetically superior animals. Embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (IVF) and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT or cloning) could play a central role in cattle production systems by impacting the rates of genetic improvement and efficient dissemination of superior genotypes. Broad-based implementation of these techniques is limited by the inability to select high quality embryos using current subjective visual assessment. The availability of a quantitative embryo selection method able to distinguish the subtle differences that separate a healthy pre-implantation embryo from a poorly performing one would greatly increase the overall efficiency of IVF and SCNT technologies. The research objectives of this project are: identify the differences in NIR spectral characteristics from spent media resulting from embryo culture of viable and non-viable embryos; develop an algorithmic model using the NIR spectral characteristics; and demonstrate that this algorithm can improve embryo selection accuracy, increasing pregnancy rate by at least 50% compared to the current morphological assessment. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project would be greater utilization of in vitro reproductive technologies by cattle breeders, which would have enormous impact on genetic improvement and reproductive management. Currently, a quantitative embryo assessment method in livestock is not available. If successful, the proposed innovative approach will increase pregnancy and calving rates by 50% compared to the present level and reduce the cost of a SCNT calf by $7,500. Reduced cost could substantially increase the technology utilization with a potential financial value of over $350 million. Additionally, the annual economic impact could exceed $100 million in dairy IVF in the U.S. alone. A successful result also will have a significant impact on herd health and help the livestock industry produce more offspring using fewer recipients, which will reduce pressure on the environment, decrease per unit climate emissions and land use, and meet future global nutritional needs. Such efforts will contribute to food security and improve the social and economic well-being of rural communities. The NIR spectral data from the project could lead to discoveries that enhance the scientific understanding of early embryogenesis and drive further progress in reproductive technology.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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