Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
Subfertility is a critical health problem with social and economic consequences. About 9 % of couples worldwide present signs of infertility. Since the first successful "Test-Tube" baby in 1978, over 5 million babies were born using Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART). ART includes such techniques as in vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination (AI), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in vitro maturation of oocytes, multiple ovulation and embryo transfer techniques. ART is used in humans and animals of economic relevance. In humans, IVF and ICSI alone are used ~ 800,000 times per year only counting Europe and the U.S. Despite their frequent use, ART methods are usually expensive (over 15,000 $), time consuming and have success pregnancy rates lower than 30 %. ART use within the animal breeding industry is additionally challenging due to the limited availability of genetically desirable gametes. Furthermore, in many species of interest, not all ART techniques have been achieved (e.g. ICSI in bovines, IVF in horses, AI in goats). In all species, the limiting factor for successful pregnancies to occur is obtaining good quality preimplantation embryos which have a direct influence in implantation and pregnancy rates. As part of this initiative, collaborative studies are targeting novel methods to improve IVF, embryonic development and implantation.