VINIF.2022.DA00030 – Development of an automated system for on-chip-based enhanced in-vitro oocyte maturation (eIVM)

project manager image
Principle Investigator
Dr. Do Quang Loc
Host Organization
University of Science, Vietnam National Universty

Vietnam is one of the countries with high infertility rates in the world. According to research, the current rate of infertility in young Vietnamese couples is 7.7%, of which the rate of secondary infertility (infertility after the first pregnancy) is increasing by 15-20% each year and accounts for about 50% of infertile couples. It is worth noting that this number is increasing over the years. Statistics show that the age of infertility is getting younger and younger, causing many concerns for young couples today. Therefore, developing and optimizing infertility treatments is extremely necessary for current public health.

Among many assisted reproductive methods, In Vitro Maturation (IVM) is considered one of the most effective and advanced methods in treating infertility today in hospitals. IIVM is a method of taking immature eggs from the ovaries (not yet stimulated with hormones) to culture in a specialized environment in the laboratory. After the ovum matures, IVF can be performed as usual. This method aims to create mature egg cells to serve other reproductive support procedures. Since 2017, Vietnam has become the country that performs IVM the most and most successfully in the world, with doctors from Australia, Italy, America, Singapore… coming to study. The advantages of the IVM technique are that it is less invasive, less painful and minimizes hormone injections for the patient, helping to reduce the risk of complications and ovarian hyperstimulation. In particular, this is the ideal solution for patients who do not respond to ovarian stimulation.

However, the IVM technique still has some limitations which are the lower rate of development of the ovum and the conception rate compared to that of the immature ovum developed in the mother’s body. The reason is that the IVM process lacks repeatability and automation, and the culture environment outside the body according to the routine IVM process cannot completely imitate the dynamic environment with the interaction of cells in the body.

In this project, the research team proposes an interdisciplinary study to improve the routine IVM process using a combination of automation technology and Organ-on-a-chip technology, a very new technology trend. The Organ-on-a-chip platform creates an environment that maximally mimics the physiological environment in the human body on a biochip, creating conditions for oocyte maturation as in the mother’s body, thereby increasing maturity rate. In the first phase of the project, the research team proposed to develop a multifunctional system to automate the routine IVM process to control the environmental conditions of oocyte maturation and to analyze in real time the development process of the ovum. This is a new system with no similar commercial products that helps automate IVM processes, improve oocyte maturation rates, and minimize unwanted effects of the external environment and technician operations to the development of ovules and embryos.

In the next phase of the project, the research team will develop a biochip system to maximally recreate the environment in the body to enhance the efficiency of oocyte maturation. The results obtained from this project will provide an automated and effective platform for routine assisted reproductive techniques. At the same time, the success of the project will open up applied research directions based on basic research results in developing organ-on-a-chip platforms for assisted reproductive procedures in particular and towards solving and meeting the urgent needs of today’s society in general, not only in Vietnam but also around the world.

project manager image
Principle Investigator
Dr. Do Quang Loc
Host Organization
University of Science, Vietnam National Universty


Expect Progress
Phase 1

– One overview report;
– One schematic design for electronic circuits;
– One hardware system design for automating the oocyte maturation process;
– One hardware system design integrating an oocyte observation microscope;
– One circuit schematic for the control unit of the micro-pump system that delivers solutions into the microfluidic channels;
– One report on the simulation results of the designed mechanical hardware system;
– One complete set of automated components for the oocyte maturation process;
– One fully enclosed automated oocyte maturation system;
– One overview report on the oocyte maturation process of animals using standard conventional systems;
– One fabrication process for microfluidic systems based on MEMS technology;
– One microfluidic chip structure design;
– One report on the modeling and simulation results of the proposed microfluidic chip functions.

Phase 2

– One algorithm flowchart and source code for the control software of the proposed system;
– One design of the user interface for the control software;
– One dataset of images documenting the development of oocytes for machine vision modeling;
– One algorithm flowchart and open-source code;
– One report on the quality results of the machine vision model;
– One algorithm flowchart and software source code;
– One report on the quality results of focus calibration and image extraction via the microscope camera;
– One research report and experimental evaluation on the use of time-lapse technology in the oocyte maturation process;
– One time-lapse process integrated into the proposed automated system;
– One microfluidic chip for oocyte maturation using PDMS material;
– One evaluation report on the enhanced oocyte maturation process using the microfluidic chip and the automated system;
– One accepted application for a utility solution registration;
– One Q1 journal article published or accepted for publication;
– One Q1 journal article submitted for publication.

Phase 3

– One report on the results of 2D culture of oocyte-granulosa cell complexes on a microfluidic chip;
– Ten microfluidic chips for culturing oocyte-granulosa cell complexes using the automated system;
– One multifunctional automated system for enhanced oocyte maturation integrated with an oocyte culture chamber;
– One evaluation report on the effectiveness of oocyte maturation using the proposed automated system and microfluidic chip;
– One industrial design drawing of the proposed automated system;
– One master’s student who has defended their thesis on the project’s research topic;
– One PhD student who has completed or is completing their dissertation on the project’s research topic;
– One comprehensive report on the project’s achieved results;
– One Q1 international journal article (published or accepted for publication);
– One accepted patent application;
– Two international conference presentations (published or accepted for publication).