Medical AMPersonalized MedicinePhotopolymer Resins

Fertilis and UpNano improve success of in vitro fertilization (IVF)

Allowing for a 30 – 40% reduction in the number of implantation cycles commonly required to get pregnant

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A novel material for 2PP 3D printing is expected to contribute to a noteworthy innovation in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) market. UpFlow, a photopolymerizing material developed by UpNano GmbH, in Austria, allows for the fast and precise 3D printing of micro-environments for a novel type of dynamic cell culture. Developed by IVF specialist Fertilis Pty Ltd, in Australia, this offers a better controlled and less variable environment for embryos before implantation and mimics the human body closer than other products currently on the market. Together with UpNano’s NanoOne 2PP 3D printer, this allows for a 30 – 40% reduction of implantation cycles commonly required to get pregnant – saving patients’ emotional and financial pain.

Fertilis and UpNano improve success of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Allowing for a 30 – 40% reduction of necessary implantation cycles.
UpFlow resin. Credit: UpNano.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is taxing on embryos, and it is therefore important to keep them safe and well during exposure to repeatedly changing conditions during the pre-implantation phase. Not only does the exposure to changing conditions cause significant stress, but it also increases the risk of failure – making repeated IVF cycles necessary. Therefore, in order to reduce stress on the embryo and increase the success rates of IVF, Fertilis developed and patented a unique environment for the critical life phase between fertilization and implantation of the embryo. This first-of-its-kind 3D printed micro-device incorporates features of 0.05mm in diameter and allows to precisely monitor and control the culturing process of the fertilized egg – eliminating the need for IVF practitioners to move cells between Petri dishes.

These minuscule features – channels with a diameter smaller than a human hair – of course, proved challenging to manufacture. “UpFlow offers a lower viscosity than any other 2PP-material with comparable biocompatibility. This allows for a far superior post-production processing, especially the flushing of the very fine channels in order to remove unpolymerized material and ensure reproducibility of structural elements,” explained Denise Hirner, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of UpNano, when talking about the company’s latest material.

UpNano achieved this viscosity by choosing specific base resins for the UpFlow material that keep the viscosity of the material low until a final UV exposure hardens the material and makes it ready to use. Other advantages of the material include a high optical transparency – making it well-suited for microscopic inspections of the incubated embryos – and a very low autofluorescence.

Fertilis and UpNano improve success of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Allowing for a 30 – 40% reduction of necessary implantation cycles.
Microfluidic cell. Credit: Fertilis.

Fertilis uses UpFlow with a NanoOne printer recently delivered to the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) at the University of South Australia. This printer not only improves the quality of the 3D printed micro-device for incubating embryos, but also the speed of production. “Previously, the 3D printing of our microfluidic devices took a full fortnight. Now 4h only. That is an exceptional acceleration of the production process. And, best of it all, using UpFlow results in a better-quality product than achieved before,” said Marty Guavin, CEO of Fertilis.

Using a NanoOne also allows Fertilis to take full advantage of UpNano’s adaptive resolution technology, which can modulate the focus width of the laser beam while printing – enabling the printing of larger and smaller features in one go, and increasing production time and quality. “The microfluidic device of Fertilis has minute channels as well as larger structures to connect the device to tubes necessary for the incubation process. Being able to print across a range of scales – from nanometers to centimeters – the NanoOne can print this all in a single production cycle,” said Denise Hirner. This greatly enhances the tight fitting of the connectors to the tubes and reduces the risk of any leakage.

Together, microfluidic devices manufactured using UpFlow protect the embryo and enable automated changes in the nutrient medium that surrounds the embryo. This provides the most optimized growth environment ever developed for IVF. “Our device allows fertilization, embryo culture, and embryo cryopreservation to occur in the one structure – no more moving embryos around by hand. This, in fact, increases the success rate significantly and reduces time, costs, and stress for the parents,” said Marty Guavin.

For UpNano, the development of UpFlow demonstrates once more the enormous potential of 2PP 3D printing for cell and medical research. This has also been shown by UpNano with the introduction of the X Hydrobio INX U200 – the only commercially available resin that allows for the embedding of living cells straight from a culture plate within highly precise 3D printed structures for biological applications.

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Composites AM 2024

746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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