Image: EmbryoScope, an incubator that takes high-resolution pictures of an embryo’s development, is allowing doctors to better see which embryos have the best chance at becoming healthy babies.
NBC News

Nightly News   |  February 28, 2013

New hope for couples trying to conceive

EmbryoScope, an incubator that takes high-resolution pictures of an embryo’s development, is allowing doctors to better see which embryos have the best chance at becoming healthy babies. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> for couples who want to become parents but have troubles conceiving, in vitro fertilization can make the dream of a family come true. but there are high failure rates and costs to contend with. now amazing new technology like we have never seen before is helping to take some of the guesswork out of ivf . our chief medical editor, dr. nancy snyderman , reports.

>> ed and caroline mark started dating in college.

>> this is 1999 .

>> yeah, sophomore year, beginning of sophomore year.

>> they fell in love and got married, bound by common goals and shared values.

>> we knew we wanted to settle down in the midwest and raise a family.

>> after moving to ohio, the couple tried to get pregnant and when it didn't work, they went to the cleveland clinic for in vitro fertilization. there, they were among the first to use a remarkable new technology called an embryo scope, allowing researchers to monitor the development of fertilized eggs around the clock.

>> the embryo is extremely dynamic. it changes constantly, so there is a lot going on behind the scenes that if you just had a single static observation per day, you would miss.

>> traditionally, embryos are removed from the incubator once a day for a few minutes of observation. giving researchers limited chance to track changes prior to implantation. the embryoscope takes high-resolution pictures every 20 minutes for an almost real-time look at the cells which never leave the climate-controlled chamber. that access allows doctors to better see which embryos might have the best chance of becoming healthy babies.

>> it's amazing. we are learning a lot about embryos. we're seeing things that would not have been possible before.

>> while there's no evidence yet that growing cells in the embryoscope leads to a greater number of successful ivf pregnancies, ed and caroline marks, now parents of twins, claire and charlotte, believe it made all the difference.

>> you're seeing them go from a fertilized egg to that first split, and it's starting to grow into a baby. and it's just amazing that we actually got to see that.

>> the girls were born in december, and while the story of their birth will always be touched by technology, what ed and caroline see now is the family they always wanted. the fda approved this technology in 2011 , and it's now in about 15 reproductive centers around the country. the cost of ivf really varies across the country, but at the cleveland clinic , the use of them brioscope is just part of doing normal business now and it's pretty amazing.

>> science is blinding. dr. nancy snyderman , thank you, as always.