Each egg has an elegant macromolecular machine within it, called the mitotic spindle. The function of the spindle is to tear apart the 23 chromosomes of the egg, which contains the genes. If the spindle is damaged the chromosome division will not happen accurately. This may lead to chromosomal abnormalities. In such a case a woman fails to conceive or faces a miscarriage.
Since the exact position of the spindle is not known during ICSI, there are chances that the spindle may get damaged. During the ICSI procedure, eggs are held carefully so as not to damage the chromosome spindles while inserting the injection needle into the eggs. This is done by holding the polar body in a particular way, as one cannot actually see the location of the chromosome-spindle.
In a breakthrough in optics and computational technology, this chromosome-spindle can now be visualized in real time, while actually injecting the eggs. This would prevent egg damage, increase fertilization rates, increase embryo formation rates and improve embryo quality. A machine called Polyscope makes use of optical deviation of light waves as it passes through the egg placed under a microscope. This deviation is then fed into a computer. Based on the computer analysis, the spindle is located. We can also have an accurate picture of the maturity of the egg as well as quality, by assessing the clear and high-resolution images of the meiotic spindle. Any abnormality of the spindle has a high risk for developing into embryos with chromosomal abnormalities. This may result in failed fertilization, poor embryo development, failed implantation or spontaneous abortion. So, this machine can be used as a screening method to avoid implanting an embryo with genetic risk. The machine can thus help to improve fertilization rates and pregnancy outcomes.