(19)
(11)EP 3 455 340 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
29.04.2020 Bulletin 2020/18

(21)Application number: 17768972.6

(22)Date of filing:  30.06.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
C12M 1/00(2006.01)
C12M 1/34(2006.01)
C12M 1/12(2006.01)
C12M 1/36(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/DK2017/050222
(87)International publication number:
WO 2018/001437 (04.01.2018 Gazette  2018/01)

(54)

AN APPARATUS FOR THE INCUBATION OF A BIOLOGICAL MATERIAL

VORRICHTUNG ZUM INKUBIEREN EINES BIOLOGISCHEN MATERIALS

APPAREIL POUR L'INCUBATION D'UN MATÉRIAU BIOLOGIQUE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 30.06.2016 DK 201600390

(43)Date of publication of application:
20.03.2019 Bulletin 2019/12

(73)Proprietor: ESCO Medical ApS
8250 Egå (DK)

(72)Inventor:
  • PEDERSEN, Thomas William
    8660 Skanderborg (DK)

(74)Representative: Skov, Anders et al
Otello Law Firm Dalgasgade 25, 8th floor
7400 Herning
7400 Herning (DK)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2011/025736
WO-A1-2014/131091
WO-A1-2014/110008
WO-A1-2015/001396
  
  • LABIVF ASIA PTE LTD: "G185 IVF Tri-Gas Incubator", INTERNET CITATION, [Online] 31 January 2010 (2010-01-31), pages 1-4, XP002722520, Retrieved from the Internet: URL:http://www.labivf.com/index.cfm?GPID=2 3> [retrieved on 2014-03-31]
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

Field of the invention



[0001] The present invention relates to the field of in vitro fertilization. More specifically the present invention relates in a first aspect to an apparatus for incubation of a biological material. In a second aspect the present invention related to a system for incubation of a biological material. In a third aspect the present invention relates to a use of an apparatus according to the first aspect or of a system according to the second aspect for incubation of a biological material. In a fourth aspect the present invention relates to a method for assessing optimum incubation conditions for a viable biological material. In a fifth aspect the present invention relates to a method for selecting a specific biological material having the highest quality, amongst an array of biological materials.

Background of the invention



[0002] The development of in vitro fertilization (IVF) has for the last few decades resulted in considerably improved methods and techniques thus leading to improved success rates in terms of enhanced rates of successful births originating from such techniques.

[0003] In vitro fertilization involves capturing a ripened egg from a female ovary, fertilizing the ovary with a spermatozoon, incubating the fertilized egg under a controlled environment and subsequently inserting the fertilized and incubated egg in a female's uterus.

[0004] As in vitro fertilization is most commonly used by females or couples which notoriously are having problems in getting pregnant the natural way, thus implying some degree of reduced fertility by the male or female counterpart of the couple, or both, and as in vitro fertilization techniques involves quite expensive procedures, these in vitro fertilization techniques are usually performed in a way that seek to optimize efficiency, especially in view of the fact that frequently more than one insertion of a fertilized egg into the female' uterus will be necessary in order to encounter a successful pregnancy.

[0005] WO 2014/110008 is directed to non-invasive in vitro methods for assessing the metabolic condition of oocytes and/or embryos with fluorescent lifetime imaging microscope (FLIM), that can be used, for example, in assessment of oocytes and embryos in assisted reproductive technologies.

[0006] WO 2015/001396 discloses a device for monitoring development of e.g. an embryo of a human being, having a compartment including a heating unit for heating interior of the compartment, where the housing is provided with cameras for capturing images of biological material in a culture dish.

[0007] Accordingly, in order to make the in vitro fertilization techniques efficient, the female is typically provided with a hormone treatment prior to harvesting eggs from her ovary.

[0008] Such hormone treatment will make the female ovary ovulate not only one egg, but a multitude of eggs at the same time.

[0009] In order to increase the chance of a viable and successful pregnancy more than one egg from the same female will accordingly be fertilized and incubated concurrently in an incubator.

[0010] Prior art incubators include a compartment which may be controlled in respect of temperature, moisture and composition of atmosphere. Most incubator's compartment allows for accommodating more than one culture dish comprising the fertilized eggs.

[0011] However, it is not an easy task to perform a successful in vitro fertilization and incubation of an egg.

[0012] One of the major reasons for the rather low success rate of in vitro fertilizations is the absence of reliable methods for selecting the highest quality embryo(s) for transfer.

[0013] The lack of methods for assessing embryo quality has led to substantial efforts to develop improved assays of embryo viability. The current most reliable method for predicting embryo quality is to examine embryo morphology prior to transfer using standard transmitted light microscopy systems.

[0014] In methods for examination of embryo morphology quality, camera means are providing within the prior art incubators and these may be equipped with a microscopic optics which allow for capturing close-up images of each fertilized egg with the view to only select those eggs that exhibit a normal or healthy development and to only insert those eggs in to the female's uterus.

[0015] In recent years it has been common practice to equip the camera means with time lapse image processing means for better allowing selection of the right fertilized eggs for subsequent insertion into the uterus.

[0016] Time lapse imaging provides for visual study of the visible physical development, such as time of division of cells at different stages, overall speed of division of cells. Studies of spindle may represent another mode of assessing the stage of development of such in an embryo.

[0017] However, selection criteria generally remain subjective and only result in a -35% success rate.

[0018] Newly proposed non-microscopy based methods, using genomic, transcriptomic or proteomic based assays, require a biopsy of the embryo and are thus invasive and significantly reduce rates of embryo survival. A metabolomic approach which initially showed promise was to assay the metabolic state of the embryo by measuring changes in metabolites in the embryo culture media. However, a prospective randomized trial has recently failed to show that utilization of such metabolomic assessment improves selection over morphologic evaluation alone.

[0019] For improving the safety of the mother and the fetus, and also for reducing the costs of the assisted reproductive technologies by reducing the number of times one has to try implantation to get pregnant and also by reducing multiple gestations, it is preferred to employ minimally invasive, simple and reliable methods for assessing embryo or oocyte viability.

[0020] Although time lapse image capturing using image capturing in the visible spectrum may have proven useful for certain applications within the field of monitoring development of biological samples in in vitro fertilization techniques, such image capturing device suffer from important drawbacks.

[0021] Such drawbacks resides in the fact that using a time lapse image capturing device working in the visible spectrum only the part of the biological material which is closest to the objective of the optics of the image capturing device will in fact be visible and hence captured by the image capturing device.

[0022] In other words, biological material which is closest to the objective of the optics of the image capturing device will shadow for the optics in such a way that lower lying material of the biological sample may not be visible and hence may not provide important and interesting information relating to the development of the biological material.

[0023] The result is that in using a time lapse image capturing device working in the visible spectrum when monitoring the development of a biological sample, important physical changes in the biological sample taking place in areas which is not in immediate vicinity of the objective of the optics of the image capturing device may not be detected and hence the information retrieved using light in the visible spectrum in a time lapse image capturing device for monitoring a biological sample may be quite limited.

[0024] In recent years an alternative microscopic technique has been developed. This technique is denoted fluorescent lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM).

[0025] In fluorescent lifetime imaging microscopy fluorophores of the biological material are brought into an exited state by subjecting the biological sample to a very short pulse of electromagnetic radiation. Subsequently, within a certain delay time, the fluorophore returns to its energetic ground state with the result of emitting electromagnetic radiation.

[0026] The time span between the short pulse of electromagnetic radiation on the one hand and the emission of electromagnetic radiation from the fluorophore on the other hand will be indicative of the metabolic state of the viable biological material in that on number of naturally occurring substances involved in the metabolism of the biological material are fluorophores. Examples of such fluorophores are nicotine amide adenine (NADH) and flavine adenine dinucleotide (FAD).

[0027] Accordingly, in Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging an image is produced based on the differences in the excited state decay rate from a fluorescent sample. Thus, FLIM is a fluorescence imaging technique where the contrast is based on the lifetime of individual fluorophores rather than their emission spectra. The fluorescence lifetime is defined as the average time that a molecule remains in an excited state prior to returning to the ground state by emitting a photon.

[0028] Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting (TCSPC) is used to determine the fluorescence lifetime. In TCSPC, one measures the time between sample excitation by a pulsed laser and the arrival of the emitted photon at the detector. TCSPC requires a defined "start", provided by the electronics steering the laser pulse or a photodiode, and a defined "stop" signal, realized by detection with single-photon sensitive detectors (e.g. Single Photon Avalanche Diodes, SPADs). The measurement of this time delay is repeated many times to account for the statistical nature of the fluorophores emission. The delay times are sorted into a histogram that plots the occurrence of emission over time after the excitation pulse. In order to acquire a fluorescence lifetime image, the photons have to be attributed to the different pixels, which is done by storing the absolute arrival times of the photons additionally to the relative arrival time in respect to the laser pulse. Line and frame marker signals from the scanner of the confocal microscope are additionally recorded in order to sort the time stream of photons into the different pixels.

[0029] Cells with objectively measured adequate metabolic state as indicated by fluorescent lifetime of protein bound and/or free NAHD or protein bound and/or free FAD indicate an oocyte or embryo that can be selected for in vitro fertilization or implantation, and if the metabolic state is inadequate the oocyte/embryo can be discarded from in vitro fertilization or implantation.

[0030] Accordingly, by registering the delay in emission of electromagnetic radiation from the fluorophores, relative to the time of imparting a pulse of radiation to which the fluorophore has been subjected, a map of the biological material can be obtained, whereby even areas which are not located in or at the surface of the biological material may studied.

[0031] Such mapping can be used to compare the metabolic state of one biological material with the metabolic state of another biological material. However, when performing such comparison, it is important in respect of obtaining reliable results that the biological materials being compared are at comparable development stages. That is, in order to provide a comparative analysis by means of FLIM spectra in respect of e.g. two different viable biological materials one needs to ensure that the two viable biological materials are at a comparative stage of development - otherwise the metabolic stages, as expressed by the FLIM spectra, of the biological materials cannot really be compared.

[0032] The present invention aims at providing apparatuses, uses and methods for allowing improving studies of development of biological samples under strictly controlled environmental conditions, such as in relation to temperature and composition of the surrounding atmosphere.

[0033] Especially, the present invention aims at providing apparatuses, uses and methods for determination of optimum incubation conditions for viable biological materials in the form of embryos or oocytes which are to be inserted into the uterus of a human female.

Brief description of the invention



[0034] This objective is fulfilled with the present invention in its various aspects. Accordingly, the present invention relates in a first aspect to an apparatus for incubation of a viable biological material;
said apparatus comprises:
a housing having an extension in a longitudinal direction, in a transversal direction, and in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal direction and the transversal direction; said housing comprising:

two or more culture dish compartments, each being adapted to accommodate, one or more culture dishes comprising a biological material;

wherein said apparatus comprises an image capturing device;

wherein said apparatus comprises a control unit for controlling the operation thereof;

wherein at least part of said image capturing device is being configured to be movable in relation to the two or more culture dish compartments, thereby allowing capture of images of one or more of said biological materials accommodated in said one or more culture dishes; and

wherein said apparatus comprises a FLIM unit (fluorescent lifetime imaging microscope)

wherein at least part of said FLIM unit is being configured to be movable in relation to the two or more culture dish compartments, thereby allowing capture of FLIM spectra of one or more of said biological materials accommodated in said one or more culture dishes;

wherein said FLIM unit independently comprises:

  • a laser source, such as a pulsed laser source, such as a diode laser or a multiphoton excitation laser; and optionally also one or more of the following elements:
  • a single photon sensitive detector;
  • a dichroic mirror (for separation of fluorescence signal from the excitation light);
  • an objective (for focusing excitation light into sample and/or for collecting fluorescence signal);
  • a control system for controlling said FLIM unit;

wherein said laser source being coupled to optical means for conveying electromagnetic radiation, such as one or more optical fibers, said optical means comprising a distal end being configured to be directed close to the biological material, for conveying by transmission, electromagnetic radiation.



[0035] In its second aspect the present invention relates to a system for incubation of a viable biological material;
said system comprises:
  • an apparatus according to the first aspect of the present invention in combination with
  • one or more culture dishes.


[0036] In its third aspect the present invention relates to a use of an apparatus according to the first aspect of the present invention or of a system according to the second aspect of the present invention for incubation of a viable biological material; with the proviso that said use does not relate to commercial, industrial and/or destructive use of a human embryo.

[0037] In its fourth aspect the present invention relates to a method for assessing optimum incubation conditions for a viable biological material, said method comprising the following steps:
  1. i) providing an apparatus according to the first aspect of the present invention or providing a system according to the first aspect of the present invention;
  2. ii) accommodating at least two culture dishes, each comprising one or more viable biological materials in separate culture dish compartments of said apparatus;
  3. iii) incubating said biological materials at incubation conditions, wherein the physical and/or chemical incubation conditions in respect of biological material being accommodated in one culture dish compartment differs by one or more parameters from the physical and/or chemical incubation conditions in respect of biological material being accommodated in another culture dish compartment;
  4. iv) during step iii), using the FLIM unit of said apparatus for capturing FLIM spectra;
  5. v) assessment of the quality of the biological material based on said FLIM spectra; with the proviso that said method does not involve commercial, industrial and/or destructive use of a human embryo.


[0038] In a fifth aspect the present invention relates to a method for selecting a specific biological material having the highest quality, amongst an array of biological materials, wherein said method comprises:
  1. a) providing an apparatus according the first aspect of the present invention;
  2. b) incubating said array of biological materials in said apparatus;
  3. c) in respect of each specific of said array of biological materials, use said image capturing device to identify a predetermined morphological state of said specific biological material;
  4. d) in the event that a predetermined morphological state has been reached in respect of a specific biological material, use said FLIM unit to capture a FLIM spectrum of said specific biological material;
  5. e) comparing the FLIM spectra obtained in respect of said array of biological materials and associated with the same morphological state of that material;
  6. f) based on the comparison made in step e), selecting that specific biological material having the highest quality, based on one or more predetermined criteria;
with the proviso that the selection performed in step f) does not relate to selection of a human embryo.

[0039] The present invention in its various aspects provides for improved monitoring development of a biological material, such as a viable biological material because the FLIM unit allows for looking deeper into the tissue of the biological material.

[0040] This is especially important for research purposes in which a vast array of different incubation environments and/or incubation conditions and/or incubation protocols are tried out in order to - by trial and error - to find the most optimum incubation environments and/or incubation conditions and/or incubation protocols for the biological material. In a specific embodiment such optimizations relate to finding optimum incubation environments and/or incubation conditions and/or incubation protocols for an oocyte or an embryo.

[0041] With the apparatus, the system, the use and the method according to the present invention it is possible to conduct a number of almost identical incubations of biological materials, wherein only one parameter relating to physical and/or chemical incubation conditions differs between conditions in respect of two biological materials.

[0042] Thereby the effect of varying only one parameter relating to physical and/or chemical incubation conditions may be determined. This in turn may be utilized for determining the collective optimum parameters relating to physical and/or chemical incubation conditions.

[0043] Such optimization is possible because the apparatus of the present invention comprises two or more culture dish compartments, each being adapted to accommodate, one or more culture dishes comprising a biological material.

[0044] For almost all fluorophores, the rate of energy transfer to the environment depends on the concentration of ions, oxygen, pH value or the binding of proteins in a cell. There is a direct relation between the concentrations of these ions, called fluorescence quenchers, and the fluorescence lifetime of the fluorophore.

[0045] Hence, FLIM can not only be used to discriminate between different fluorophores on the basis of their characteristic lifetimes (rather than their spectral properties) but also to distinguish among different environments within the cell based on changes in lifetime of the same fluorophore if it is present in local environments containing varying concentrations of fluorescence quenchers.

[0046] This means that metabolism of a viable biological material may be studied with the present invention based on effects of various fluorophore environments, such as polarity, pH, temperature, ion concentration etc.

[0047] Also, using the present invention detection of molecular interactions allowing for distance measurements in the nanometer range will be possible. Again, this may be done with reference to various incubation conditions.

[0048] Yet another concept which may be studied using the present invention is a detection of conformational intramolecular changes due to folding or action of molecular motors.

[0049] A still further concept which may be studied using the present invention is the ability to distinguish employed fluorophores and determine their spectral characteristics, as well as discriminating label fluorescence from the fluorescence background of the a viable biological material, thus allowing an improved detection efficiency and more accurate marker localization.

[0050] Yet a still further concept which may be studied using the present invention is characterization and quality control of new materials via fluorescent labels or quantum dots.

[0051] Using the apparatus of the invention in the studies provides for constructing a database comprising data retrieved form the FLIM microscopy of the viable biological material. By comparing the actual viability of various different biological materials and by comparing these material's FLIM spectra makes it possible to predict those pointers or features in a FLIM spectrum that correspond to a "healthy" viable biological material.

[0052] Hence, based on statistical analysis it will be possible, using the apparatus according to the present invention, to assess the quality of a specific viable biological material, such as an oocyte or an embryo.

[0053] It should be noted that the inventions disclosed in the present description and claimed in the appended claims do not in any way relate to uses or methods for implantation of a non-human embryo into the uterus of a human female.

Brief description of the figures



[0054] 

Fig.1 shows in a perspective view an embodiment of a device according to the present invention,

Fig. 2 shows schematically the principle of the device according to the present invention.

Fig. 3 schematically illustrates details of a control system for controlling a device according to the present invention.

Fig. 4 illustrates a simple TCSPC set-up for fluorescence lifetime measurements.

Fig. 5 illustrates a TCSPC histogram obtained with the setup of fig. 4.

Fig. 6 illustrates one embodiment laser diode/detector set-up using optical cables.


Detailed description of the invention



[0055] The present invention relates in a first aspect to an apparatus for incubation of a viable biological material;
said apparatus comprises:
a housing having an extension in a longitudinal direction, in a transversal direction, and in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal direction and the transversal direction; said housing comprising:

two or more culture dish compartments, each being adapted to accommodate, one or more culture dishes comprising a biological material;

wherein said apparatus comprises an image capturing device;

wherein said apparatus comprises control unit for controlling the operation thereof;

wherein at least part of said image capturing device is being configured to be movable in relation to the two or more culture dish compartments, thereby allowing capture of images of one or more of said biological materials accommodated in said one or more culture dishes; and

wherein said apparatus comprises a FLIM unit (fluorescent lifetime imaging microscope)

wherein at least part of said FLIM unit is being configured to be movable in relation to the two or more culture dish compartments, thereby allowing capture of FLIM spectra of one or more of said biological materials accommodated in said one or more culture dishes; wherein said FLIM unit independently comprises:

  • a laser source, such as a pulsed laser source, such as a diode laser or a multiphoton excitation laser; and optionally also one or more of the following elements:
  • a single photon sensitive detector;
  • a dichroic mirror (for separation of fluorescence signal from the excitation light);
  • an objective (for focusing excitation light into sample and/or for collecting fluorescence signal);
  • a control system for controlling said FLIM unit;

wherein said laser source being coupled to optical means for conveying electromagnetic radiation, such as one or more optical fibers, said optical means comprising a distal end being configured to be directed close to the biological material, for conveying by transmission, electromagnetic radiation.



[0056] Accordingly, the apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention is an apparatus for incubation of a viable biological material and it comprises an image capturing device as well as a FLIM unit.

[0057] Herby it is achieved that during incubation of a biological material, such as an oocyte or an embryo, the morphological state of the biological material can be monitored by means of the image capturing device, whereas the metabolic state of the biological material can be monitored by using the FLIM unit. This is possible in part because the image capturing device and the FLIM unit, or at least parts thereof, are movable in relation to the culture dish compartments. The image capturing device and the FLIM unit may be movable individually or collective on a set of common movement means.

[0058] Making the laser source being coupled to optical means for conveying electromagnetic radiation, such as one or more optical fibers makes it easy for the part of the FLIM unit responsible for transmitting and receiving electromagnetic radiation to be moved relative to the biological material being under investigation.

[0059] Collectively, this provides for an improved basis for determining the quality of a biological material, especially in case of an oocyte or an embryo, with the view to select that species which has the highest prospect of leading to a successful pregnancy when inserted into a female's uterus.

[0060] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention the number of individual culture dish compartments is being 2 - 25, for example 3 - 24, such as 4 - 23, e.g. 5 - 22, such as 6 - 21, e.g. 7 - 20 or 8 - 19, for example 9 - 18, such as 10 - 17, for example 11 - 16, such as 12 - 15 or 13 - 14 individual culture dish compartments.

[0061] Such numbers of individual and/or separate culture dish compartments allows in a research situation to conduct a number of parallel protocols wherein each protocol differs by only one parameter from one culture dish compartment to another. Thereby optimization of protocols of a specific type of viable biological material may be determined.

[0062] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention one or more of said individual culture dish compartments, preferable all said culture dish compartments comprises its own individual lid, wherein each said lid is configured to be able to shift between an open configuration providing access to the corresponding culture dish compartment and a closed configuration in which the corresponding culture dish compartment is being sealed off from the surroundings.

[0063] By providing individual and separate culture dish compartments with its own individual lid, it is assured that the environment of one culture dish compartment may be kept at predetermined conditions independent of the environment of the other culture dish compartments.

[0064] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention the apparatus furthermore comprising temperature regulating means for individual and independent regulation of the temperature in one or more of said individual culture dish compartments, preferable in each of said individual culture dish compartments.

[0065] By providing individual and separate culture dish compartments with its own individual temperature regulating means for individual regulating the temperature, it is assured that the environment of one culture dish compartment may be kept at predetermined conditions independent of the environment of the other culture dish compartments.

[0066] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said temperature regulating means independently comprising heating means, such as one or more electric heating elements; and/or cooling means, such as one or more Peltier elements.

[0067] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention the apparatus furthermore comprising gas composition regulating means for individual regulating the gas composition, such as the concentration of oxygen, carbon dioxide and/or nitrogen in one or more of said individual culture dish compartments, preferable in each of said individual said culture dish compartments.

[0068] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus comprising means for supplying one or more types of different gases from an external source, such as from a gas cylinder.

[0069] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said means being valves for regulating the flow of gas into the apparatus.

[0070] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus comprising a gas mixing box for said one or more gases.

[0071] By providing individual and separate culture dish compartments with its own individual gas composition regulating means for individual regulating the gas composition, it is assured that the environment of one culture dish compartment may be kept at predetermined conditions independent of the environment of the other culture dish compartments.

[0072] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said gas mixing box comprises a CO2 sensor, such as a NDIR CO2 sensor; and a O2 sensor, such as a medical grade chemical O2 sensor, and furthermore comprises one or more conduits for conducting a gas from said gas mixing box to one or more of said separate culture dish compartments.

[0073] Such sensors allows for monitoring the environment to be supplied to the particular culture dish compartment(s).

[0074] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said two or more culture dish compartments share the same gas mixing box; or alternatively each culture dish compartment is assigned its own individual gas mixing box.

[0075] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention the apparatus comprises means for subjecting said one or more gas or mixture of gases to UV radiation, such as UV-C radiation, said means optionally comprises a filter for filtering off UV radiation which could lead to the production of ozone, such as UV radiation having a wavelength of 175 - 195 nm, such as UV radiation having a wavelength of 180 - 190 nm.

[0076] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention the apparatus furthermore comprising means for filtering the gas or mixture of gases, such as HEPA filter and/or a carbon filter prior to entering the culture dish compartment.

[0077] Such UV radiation means and/or filter means provide for sanitizing the gas to be supplied to the culture dish compartment(s).

[0078] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus in respect of one or more of said culture dish compartments comprise one or more conduits for leading gas from said culture dish compartment to a gas mixing box.

[0079] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said individual culture dish compartment in respect of one or more of said individual culture dish compartments, preferably in respect of each individual culture dish compartment, comprises a transparent shelf for carrying a culture dish; and wherein said image capturing device and said FLIM unit, or at least the parts thereof transmitting and receiving electromagnetic radiation, is/are arranged below said shelves and being adapted to be movable so as to enable transmitting and/or capturing electromagnetic radiation, through said shelves, to/from said biological material accommodated in any of said culture dish being accommodated in any of said culture dish compartments.

[0080] Hereby is achieved that the FLIM unit or at least a light transmitting and a light receiving part of it may be arranged below the culture dish(es) whereby one FLIM unit may be able to capture images associated with culture dishes being accommodated in different culture dish compartments.

[0081] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention the individual culture dish compartment, in respect of one or more of said individual culture dish compartments, preferably in respect of each individual culture dish compartment, independently comprises one or more of the following: a pH sensor, a temperature sensor, an oxygen sensor, a carbon dioxide sensor.

[0082] Such sensors allows for monitoring the environment in the particular culture dish compartment.

[0083] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said control unit for controlling the operation of said apparatus is configured to independently control one or more of the following: said temperature regulating means in respect of one or more of the culture dish compartments; said gas composition regulating means in respect of one or more of the culture dish compartments; said image capturing device; or said FLIM unit.

[0084] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said control unit being configured to allow a user to input predetermined operation protocol(s) to be followed by said apparatus; and wherein said control unit being configured to control said apparatus according to said protocol(s).

[0085] Herby is achieved that the apparatus may be operated fully automatically according to predetermined protocols.

[0086] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus comprises input means, such as an alphanumerical keyboard, for allowing a user to program and select one or more operation protocols to be followed by said apparatus; and/or for allowing a user to program specific protocols to be followed by said apparatus.

[0087] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus comprises a display for displaying to an operator details relation to status and progression of the operation of the apparatus.

[0088] Such display means allows an operator to control and monitor the operation of the apparatus.

[0089] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus further comprising an image processing unit for processing images captured by said image capturing device; and/or further comprising a spectral data processing unit for processing information relating to electromagnetic radiation captured by said FLIM unit.

[0090] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said image processing unit being configured to provide, from the images captured by said image capturing device, time-lapse image series of one or more specific biological materials of the biological materials being incubated.

[0091] Time lapse imaging allows one to monitor the development of a particular viable biological material with the view to assess the quality of such a material with the view to selecting a particular biological material for further processing steps.

[0092] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said spectral data processing unit is being configured to be able to perform an analysis of differences between two identified spectra captured by said FLIM unit.

[0093] Hereby is achieved that an objective assessment of the quality of a metabolic state of a biological material can be obtained.

[0094] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said single photon sensitive detector independently being coupled to optical means for conveying electromagnetic radiation, such as one or more optical fibers, said optical means comprising a distal end being configured to be directed to the biological material, for conveying by receiving, electromagnetic radiation.

[0095] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said FLIM unit is configured for auto-fluorescence of nicotine amide adenine (NADH) and/or for auto-fluorescence of flavine adenine dinucleotide (FAD) being involved in the metabolism of the biological material.

[0096] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus being configured for operating in a time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) mode.

[0097] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus being configured for operating in a FRET mode or in a FRAP mode or in a PLIM mode (Phosphorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy).

[0098] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said laser is operating in the wavelength range of 350 - 800 nm, such as 400 - 750 nm, for example 450 - 700 nm, e.g. 500 - 650 nm, such as 550 - 600 nm.

[0099] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said laser is operating in pulse widths of 30 - 100, such as 40 - 90, e.g. 50 - 80, such as 60 - 70 picoseconds (ps).

[0100] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus during the fluorescence operations is being configured to operate in the time domain or in the frequency domain.

[0101] Such modes of operation and ranges of parameters have proven beneficial for the intended study of the biological material.

[0102] In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention said apparatus is being configured to incubate two or more biological material in the form of oocytes or embryos; wherein said apparatus in respect of each specific of said two or more biological materials is being configured, based on images captured by said image capturing device, to identify a predetermined morphological state of said specific biological material; and wherein said apparatus is being configured, in the event that a predetermined morphological state has been reached in respect of a specific biological material, to capture a FLIM spectrum of said specific biological material.

[0103] Hereby is achieved that the metabolic state and quality of two or more oocytes or embryos can be compared at the same morphological state.

[0104] In one embodiment of this embodiment said apparatus is being configured, in respect of each specific of said two or more biological materials, to identify two or more different and predetermined morphological states, based on said images captured by said image capturing device, of that specific biological material, and wherein in the event of each such different and predetermined morphological state has been reached in respect of a specific biological material, said apparatus is being configured to capture a FLIM spectrum of said specific biological material in respect of each such predetermined morphological state.

[0105] Hereby is achieved that the development or change in metabolic state and quality of two or more oocytes or embryos can be compared in the transition from one to another morphological state.

[0106] In one embodiment of this embodiment said apparatus in respect of each of said two or more biological materials is being configured for analyzing differences of the FLIM spectra corresponding to two or more different morphological states of the same biological material.

[0107] Such analysis may be performed automatically by said apparatus or it may be performed manually in the sense that the apparatus is instructed to perform such an analysis.

[0108] In one embodiment of this embodiment said apparatus is being configured to identify that specific biological material exhibiting the smallest difference in FLIM spectra belonging to two different and specific morphological states, as the most stable biological material; and accordingly the best candidate for insertion into a female's uterus.

[0109] It has been discovered that those oocytes or embryos which exhibit the smallest change, in terms of the appearance of a FLIM spectrum, when transiting from one morphological state to the next, are prone to lead to the most successful pregnancies when being inserted into a female's uterus.

[0110] In one embodiment of these embodiments said morphological state/states is/are selected from the group comprising events associated with the following: t0 (time of insemination), tPB2 (time from insemination to appearance of second polar body); tPNa (time from insemination to pronuclei appearance); tPNf (time from insemination to pronuclei fading); t2-t9 (time from insemination to corresponding divisions (2 to 9)); tM (time from insemination to compacting into morula stage); t5B (time from insemination to start of blastulation); tB (time from insemination to blastocyst formation complete); tEB (time from insemination to expanded blastocyst); tHB (time from insemination to hatched blastocyst); cc1 (first round of cleavage); cc2 (second round of cleavage); cc3 (third round of cleavage); cc4 (fourth round of cleavage); s1 (first synchronization parameter); s2 (second synchronization parameter); s3 (third synchronization parameter); t2_int (stage after first division); t4_int (stage after second division); t8_int (stage after third division).

[0111] These events are events that are easily recognizable by an image capturing device and which represent well defined transitions in the development of an oocyte or an embryo.

[0112] In its second aspect the present invention relates to a system for incubation of a viable biological material;
said system comprises:
  • an apparatus according to the first aspect of the present invention in combination with
  • one or more culture dishes.


[0113] In one embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention said one or more culture dishes comprises a material comprising a number of culture wells.

[0114] In one embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention said number of culture wells being 2 - 21, such as 3 - 20, for example 4 - 19, such as 5 - 18, for example 6 - 17, such as 7 -16, e.g. 8 - 15, for example 9 - 14, such as 10 - 13 or 11 - 12.

[0115] Such numbers of culture wells allows in a research situation to conduct a number of parallel protocols wherein each protocol differs by only one parameter from one culture well to another. Thereby optimization of protocols for the incubation of a specific type of viable biological material may be determined.

[0116] In its third aspect the present invention relates to a use of an apparatus according to the first aspect of the present invention or of a system according to the second aspect of the present invention for incubation of a viable biological material; with the proviso that said use does not relate to commercial, industrial and/or destructive use of a human embryo.

[0117] In one embodiment of the third aspect of the present invention the biological material is being an oocyte or an embryo.

[0118] In one embodiment of the third aspect of the present invention the use is with the additional purpose of assessment of the quality of a metabolic state of said viable biological material.

[0119] In one embodiment of the third aspect of the present invention the use is with the additional purpose ofempirically determining optimum protocols relating to physical and/or chemical conditions of a biological material during the incubation thereof.

[0120] In its fourth aspect the present invention relates to a method for assessing optimum incubation conditions for a viable biological material, said method comprising the following steps:
  1. i) providing an apparatus according to the first aspect of the present invention or providing a system according to the first aspect of the present invention;
  2. ii) accommodating at least two culture dishes, each comprising one or more viable biological materials in separate culture dish compartments of said apparatus;
  3. iii) incubating said biological materials at incubation conditions, wherein the physical and/or chemical incubation conditions in respect of biological material being accommodated in one culture dish compartment differs by one or more parameters from the physical and/or chemical incubation conditions in respect of biological material being accommodated in another culture dish compartment;
  4. iv) during step iii), using the FLIM unit of said apparatus for capturing FLIM spectra;
  5. v) assessment of the quality of the biological material based on said FLIM spectra; with the proviso that said method does not involve commercial, industrial and/or destructive use of a human embryo.


[0121] In one embodiment of the fourth aspect, the FLIM spectra being captured in step iv) is being captured at predetermined and similar morphological stage(s) in respect of each said biological material.

[0122] Hereby it is possible to compare the metabolic state of different biological materials having reached the same morphological stage.

[0123] In one embodiment of this embodiment said predetermined and similar morphological stage(s) is/are being determined from images captured by said image capturing device.

[0124] In one embodiment of the fourth aspect of the present invention step ii) - v) are repeated, wherein at least one set of physical and/or chemical incubation conditions in respect of biological material being accommodated in one culture dish is being altered.

[0125] In one embodiment of the fourth aspect of the present invention the most optimum physical and/or chemical incubation conditions is being determined, based on said FLIM spectra.

[0126] In a fifth aspect the present invention relates to a method for selecting a specific biological material having the highest quality, amongst an array of biological materials, wherein said method comprises:
  1. a) providing an apparatus according to the first aspect of the present invention;
  2. b) incubating said array of biological materials in said apparatus;
  3. c) in respect of each specific of said array of biological materials, use said image capturing device to identify a predetermined morphological state of said specific biological material;
  4. d) in the event that a predetermined morphological state has been reached in respect of a specific biological material, use said FLIM unit to capture a FLIM spectrum of said specific biological material;
  5. e) comparing the FLIM spectra obtained in respect of said array of biological materials and associated with the same morphological state of that material;
  6. f) based on the comparison made in step e) selecting that specific biological material having the highest quality, based on one or more predetermined criteria;
with the proviso that the selection performed in step f) does not relate to selection of a human embryo.

[0127] Hereby is achieved that the metabolic state and quality of two or more biological materials, such as oocytes or embryos can be compared at the same morphological state, and on the basis of the appearance of the FLIM spectra, the biological material having the highest quality can be selected.

[0128] In one embodiment of the fifth aspect of the present invention said image capturing device is used in step c) to identify two or more different and predetermined morphological states; and wherein in step d), and in respect of each specific biological material, said FLIM unit is used to capture a FLIM spectrum of said specific biological material at each of the two or more different and predetermined morphological states.

[0129] Hereby is achieved that the development or change in metabolic state and quality of two or more oocytes or embryos can be compared in the transition from one to another morphological state.

[0130] In one embodiment of the fifth aspect of the present invention, and in respect of each of said biological materials of said array of biological materials, differences of the FLIM spectra corresponding to two different morphological states of the same biological material is analyzed.

[0131] In respect of different biological materials, analyzing the FLIM spectra corresponding to two different morphological states of that specific biological material allows one to assess the stability of the metabolism of one biological material compared to the stability of the metabolism of another biological material.

[0132] In one embodiment of the fifth aspect of the present invention said method further comprises the step of identifying that specific biological material exhibiting the smallest difference in FLIM spectra belonging to two different and specific morphological states, as the most stable biological material; and accordingly the best candidate for insertion into a female's uterus.

[0133] In one embodiment of the fifth aspect of the present invention one or more of said predetermined morphological states are selected from the group comprising events associated with the following: t0 (time of insemination), tPB2 (time from insemination to appearance of second polar body); tPNa (time from insemination to pronuclei appearance); tPNf (time from insemination to pronuclei fading); t2-t9 (time from insemination to corresponding divisions (2 to 9)); tM (time from insemination to compacting into morula stage); t5B (time from insemination to start of blastulation); tB (time from insemination to blastocyst formation complete); tEB (time from insemination to expanded blastocyst); tHB (time from insemination to hatched blastocyst); cc1 (first round of cleavage); cc2 (second round of cleavage); cc3 (third round of cleavage); cc4 (fourth round of cleavage); s1 (first synchronization parameter); s2 (second synchronization parameter); s3 (third synchronization parameter); t2_int (stage after first division); t4_int (stage after second division); t8_int (stage after third division).

[0134] These events are events that are easily recognizable by an image capturing device and which represent well defined transitions in the development of an oocyte or an embryo.Referring now to the drawings for the purpose of illustrating preferred embodiments of the present invention, fig. 1 shows in a perspective view an embodiment of a device 200 according to the first aspect of the present invention. Fig. 1 shows the housing 2 of the device 200. In the embodiment shown in fig. 1 the device comprises six separate culture dish compartments 6, each having its own lid 14. The housing extends in a longitudinally direction X and in a transverse direction Y and in a direction Z perpendicular to the longitudinal direction and the transversal direction. The six separate culture dish compartments 6 are aligned along the X direction.

[0135] Fig. 2 shows schematically a device 200 according to the first aspect of the present invention. Fig. 2 illustrates that the housing 4 of the device 200 comprises six separate culture dish compartments 6, each culture dish compartment being separated from the adjacent culture dish compartment 6 by a compartment walls. In fig. 2 are shown that a culture dish 8 is accommodated in each culture dish compartments 6. The culture dish 8 rests on a shelf 34 which in fig. 2 simple is the bottom of the culture dish compartment. At least part of the bottom of the culture dish compartments is transparent, thus allowing the image capturing device 10 and the FLIM unit 11 (or the optical parts thereof) to transmit and capture electromagnetic radiation to/from a biological material 2 accommodated in one or more wells of the culture dishes 8 from an area below the culture dish compartments 6. In fig. 2 the transparent bottom of the culture dish compartments is in the form of transparent shelves 24.

[0136] The image capturing device 10 and the FLIM unit 11 (or parts thereof), are attached to movement means 38 for moving the image capturing device and the FLIM unit (or parts thereof), thereby allowing the image capturing device and the FLIM unit to move along the longitudinal direction X with the view to capture images of biological material being cultured in the culture wells of one or more culture dishes arranged in one or more of the culture dish compartments and also with the view to capture FLIM spectra of such biological material. The image capturing device 10 and the FLIM unit 11 (or parts thereof) may in a general case also be configured to to move along the transversal direction Y and the direction Z, being perpendicular to the direction X and to the direction Y.

[0137] For sake of simplicity, in Fig. 2 and also in Fig. 3 the image capturing device 10 and the FLIM unit 11 are outlined collectively as item 10,11 arranged on a common set of movement means 38.

[0138] However, the image capturing device 10 and the FLIM unit 11 may just as well each be provided with its own individual set of movement means 38.

[0139] It is seen in fig. 2 that each culture dish compartment is having its own dedicated lid 14 which allows for introducing, removing and inspecting a culture dish accommodated in a specific compartment without imposing any adverse effects, such as altering the composition of atmosphere or altering the temperature of the atmosphere of any of the other culture dish compartments 6. Moreover, in this way no risk of contamination of the content of the culture dishes 8 in any other compartment than the specific one subject to inspection will be present.

[0140] In most cases it will be advantageous to provide the device 200 with means for providing a desired gas atmosphere in each culture dish compartments. It will furthermore in most cases be desirably to provide the device 200 with heating means and temperature sensors for regulating the temperature in each culture dish compartments.

[0141] Preferably the device 200 will also be provided with control means for controlling such parameters. This is further elaborated below.

[0142] Fig. 3 illustrates schematically details of such a control system for the device 200 according to the first aspect of the present invention. Fig. 3 shows the device 200 comprising the housing 4. The housing comprises two or more separate culture dish compartments (only one culture dish compartment is shown in fig. 3 for the sake of simplicity). The culture dish compartment is provided with gas. The gas is flowing from a gas mixing box 40 in a conduit 42 through a filter means 44 for gas and into the interior of the culture dish compartment 6.

[0143] In fig. 3 various parts of the control system and the gas mixing box are indicated to be located outside the housing of the device. This design may be possible. However, it may also be desirable to arrange such part inside the housing of the device. The gas mixing box comprises inlets 44,46 for gas. The gases to be supplied may preferably be CO2 and N2 as shown in fig. 3. The magnitude of the flow of the gasses supplied to the gas mixing box may be regulated by the valves 48,50. Means 52 for emitting electromagnetic radiation in the UV wavelength range may be provided for gas sanitizing purposes.

[0144] The device may be provided with a control unit 12 for controlling various parameters of the operation of the device. Such a control unit is shown in fig. 3. The control unit 12 is coupled to input means 32, such as an alphanumerical keyboard or a pointing device allowing a user to input data relating to a desired mode of operation. Furthermore, the control unit may be coupled to display means 34 allowing a user to monitor various settings of the operation of the device.

[0145] In fig. 3 are also shown a CO2 sensor 58 and an O2 sensor 60. The sensors may be coupled to the control unit 12 via wires 62, 64 and the control unit may be coupled to the valves 48,50 for regulating inlet of gas. In this way it will be possible to maintain a fairly constant atmosphere of a desired gas mixture in each separate culture dish compartment 4.

[0146] Each culture dish compartment may be connected to its own dedicated gas mixing box; or alternatively, two or more culture dish compartments may share the same gas mixing box.

[0147] Normally it will not be desired to provide oxygen content in the interior of the culture dish compartments above the normal oxygen level in atmospheric air. For this reason the oxygen level may be regulated by supplying varying amounts of CO2 and N2. The CO2 level may in turn be regulated by "dilution" with N2. From the interior of the culture dish compartment is provided a conduit 66 for recirculating gas from the interior of the compartment back to the gas mixing box.

[0148] The culture dish compartment may be equipped with a temperature sensor 68 and heating means 18 and/or cooling means 20. The temperature sensor 68 and heating means 18 and the cooling means 20 are coupled via wires 74,74', 74" to the control unit 12 in such a way that feedback may be provided to the heating means 18 and the cooling means 20 from the control unit 12, based on readings of the temperature sensor 68.

[0149] The image capturing device 10 and the FLIM unit, or at least parts thereof, such as transmitting and receiving parts thereof is/are moveable, at least along the longitudinal direction X below the array of culture dish compartments. This movement is brought about by movement means 38, which is controlled by the control unit 12 via wire 76.

[0150] Information relating to sending and/or receiving information in relating to operation of the image capturing device 10 itself is transmitted through cable 78.

[0151] Fig. 4 shows a simple set-up for fluorescence lifetime measurements with TCSPC. A picosecond diode laser 100 is running on its internal clock. The driver box 102 is physically separate from the actual laser head which is attached via a flexible lead. This permits to conveniently place the small laser head anywhere in the optical set-up.

[0152] The light pulses of typically 50 ps FWHM are directed at the sample of biological material 2 being accommodated in a cuvette. The light pulses are preferably being directed at the biological material using appropriate optics. A neutral density filter 104 is used to attenuate the light levels to maintain single photon statistics at the detector. Upon excitation, the fluorescent biological material or sample will emit light at a longer wavelength than that of the excitation light. The fluorescence light is filtered out against scattered excitation light by means of an optical cut-off filter 106.

[0153] Subsequently the fluorescence light is directed to the photon, via some appropriate collection optics, e.g., a microscope objective or just a lens. For timing accuracies of 200 ps FWHM, an non-costly Photomultiplier Tube 108 is sufficient. The electrical signal obtained from the detector, e.g., a small negative pulse of -20 mV, is fed to a pre-amplifier, and then to the TCSPC electronics 110 via a standard 50 Ohms coax cable.

[0154] The laser driver also provides the electric sync signal 112 needed for the photon arrival time measurement. This signal (NIM standard, a narrow pulse of -800 mV) is fed to the TCSPC electronics via a standard 50 Ohms coax cable.

[0155] Fig. 5 shows TCSPC histograms obtained with the setup including the TCSPC electronics illustrated in fig. 4. Excitation source was a PDL 800-B with a 470 nm laser head running at 10 MHz repetition rate. A PDM SPAD from MPD was used for detection. The narrow, highest peak at the left hand side represents the system Instrument Response Function (IRF), here dominated by laser and detector. The other curve corresponds to the fluorescence decay from a solution of Atto 488 in water.

[0156] Atto 488 is a fluorescent dye with fairly short fluorescence lifetime (∼ 3.8 ns). The count rate was adjusted to < 1 % of the laser rate to prevent pile-up. The plot in logarithmic scale shows the perfect exponential nature of the decay curve, as one would expect it.

[0157] Fig. 6 illustrates one embodiment of part of the FLIM unit to be used with the apparatus according to the present invention. Fig. 6 shows that the laser diode 100 is conveying its electromagnetic radiation via optical cables 128 and optical cable connectors 126 to the biological material 2 to be examined. Likewise, the fluorescent signal emitted from the sample is being conveyed via optical cables 128 and optical cable connector 126 to the detector 108.

[0158] As the apparats according to the first aspect comprises an image capturing device as well as a FLIM unit, it is possible to monitor one or more viable biological material, such as oocytes or embryos and compare the metabolic state of one or more biological materials, as determined by means of a FLIM spectrum, at development stages that are comparable from one biological material to the other, as determined by means of the specific morphological appearance which is revealed by using the image capturing device.

[0159] Accordingly, in the apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention, the image capturing device is used for determining a specific morphological stage of interest of the biological material (such as the number of cell cleavages). The FLIM unit on the other hand is used for revealing metabolic stages of the biological materials.

[0160] Thereby, metabolic stages and qualities of various biological materials can be compared at morphological stages which are comparable.

[0161] Based on this, an objective assessment of the quality of an incubated biological material, compared to other biological incubated biological material, can be performed with reference to the same morphological stage of the biological material (which may vary in terms of the time frame).

[0162] Such an objective assessment is of extremely high value, not at least with the view to select viable oocytes or embryos for insertion into a female's uterus.

[0163] Although, the present invention has mainly been described with reference to human fertilization technology, it is obvious that the present invention in its various aspects likewise is applicable in many other fields of technology, including veterinary science, including fertility technology within veterinary science.

[0164] It should be understood that all features and achievements discussed above and in the appended claims in relation to one aspect of the present invention and embodiments thereof apply equally well to the other aspects of the present invention and embodiments thereof.

List of reference numerals



[0165] 
2
Biological material
4
Housing of apparatus
6
Culture dish compartment
8
Culture dish
10
Image capturing device
11
FLIM unit or parts thereof
12
Control unit
14
Lid of culture dish compartment
16
Temperature regulating means
18
Heating means
20
Cooling means
22
Gas composition regulating means
24
Transparent shelf
26
pH sensor
28
Oxygen sensor
30
Carbon dioxide sensor
32
Input means
34
Display means
36
Image processing unit
38
Movement means
40
Gas mixing box
42
Conduit
44
Inlet for gas
46
Inlet for gas
48
Valve
50
Valve
52
UV radiation means
58
CO2 sensor
60
O2 sensor
62
Wire
64
Wire
66
Conduit
68
Temperature sensor
74,74',74"
Wires
76
Wire
78
Cable
100
Laser diode
102
Driver box
104
Neutral density filter
106
Cut-off filter
108
Detector
110
TCSPC electronics
112
Cable for conveying sync signal
120
Histogram
122
Peak of histogram
124
Decay curve
126
Optical fiber connector
128
Optical cable
200
Apparatus
300
System
X
Longitudinal direction
Y
Transverse direction
Z
Direction perpendicular to a longitudinal and transversal direction



Claims

1. An apparatus (200) for incubation of a viable biological material (2);
said apparatus comprises:
a housing (4) having an extension in a longitudinal direction X, in a transversal direction Y, and in a direction Z perpendicular to the longitudinal direction and the transversal direction; said housing comprising:

two or more culture dish compartments (6), each being adapted to accommodate, one or more culture dishes (8) comprising a biological material (2);

wherein said apparatus comprises an image capturing device (10);

wherein said apparatus comprises a control unit (12) for controlling the operation thereof;

wherein at least part of said image capturing device is being configured to be movable in relation to the two or more culture dish compartments (6), thereby allowing capture of images of one or more of said biological materials (2) accommodated in said one or more culture dishes (8); and

wherein said apparatus comprises a FLIM unit (11) (fluorescent lifetime imaging microscope);

wherein at least part of said FLIM unit (11) is being configured to be movable in relation to the two or more culture dish compartments (6), thereby allowing capture of FLIM spectra of one or more of said biological materials (2) accommodated in said one or more culture dishes (8):
wherein said FLIM unit independently comprises:

- a laser source, such as a pulsed laser source, such as a diode laser or a multiphoton excitation laser; and optionally also one or more of the following elements:

- a single photon sensitive detector;

- a dichroic mirror (for separation of fluorescence signal from the excitation light);

- an objective (for focusing excitation light into sample and/or for collecting fluorescence signal);

- a control system for controlling said FLIM unit;

wherein said laser source being coupled to optical means for conveying electromagnetic radiation, such as one or more optical fibers, said optical means comprising a distal end being configured to be directed close to the biological material, for conveying by transmission, electromagnetic radiation.


 
2. An apparatus (200) according to claim 1, wherein one or more of said individual culture dish compartments (6), preferable all said culture dish compartments comprises its own individual lid (14), wherein each said lid is configured to be able to shift between an open configuration providing access to the corresponding culture dish compartment (6) and a closed configuration in which the corresponding culture dish compartment is being sealed off from the surroundings.
 
3. An apparatus (200) according to claim 1 or 2 furthermore comprising temperature regulating means (16) for individual and independent regulation of the temperature in one or more of said individual culture dish compartments (6), preferable in each of said individual culture dish compartments.
 
4. An apparatus (200) according to any of claim 1 - 3 furthermore comprising gas composition regulating means (22) for individual regulating the gas composition, such as the concentration of oxygen, carbon dioxide and/or nitrogen in one or more of said individual culture dish compartments (6), preferable in each of said individual said culture dish compartments.
 
5. An apparatus (200) according to any of the preceding claims wherein in respect of one or more of said individual culture dish compartments (6), preferably in respect of each individual culture dish compartment, said individual culture dish compartment comprises a transparent shelf (24) for carrying a culture dish; and wherein said image capturing device (10) and said FLIM unit (11), or at least the parts thereof transmitting and receiving electromagnetic radiation, is/are arranged below said shelves and being adapted to be movable so as to enable transmitting and/or capturing electromagnetic radiation, through said shelves (24), to/from said biological material (2) accommodated in any of said culture dish (8) being accommodated in any of said culture dish compartments (6).
 
6. An apparatus (200) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said FLIM unit is configured for auto-fluorescence of nicotine amide adenine (NADH) and/or for auto-fluorescence of flavine adenine dinucleotide (FAD) being involved in the metabolism of the biological material.
 
7. An apparatus (200) according to any of the preceding claims wherein said apparatus being configured for operating in a time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) mode.
 
8. An apparatus (200) according to any of the preceding claims wherein said apparatus being configured for operating in a FRET mode or in a FRAP mode or in a PLIM mode (Phosphorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy).
 
9. An apparatus (200) according to any of the preceding claims wherein said apparatus during the fluorescence operations is being configured to operate in the time domain or in the frequency domain.
 
10. An apparatus (200) according to any of the preceding claims wherein said apparatus is being configured to incubate two or more biological material in the form of oocytes or embryos; wherein said apparatus in respect of each specific of said two or more biological materials is being configured, based on images captured by said image capturing device (10), to identify a predetermined morphological state of said specific biological material; and wherein said apparatus is being configured, in the event that a predetermined morphological state has been reached in respect of a specific biological material, to capture a FLIM spectrum of said specific biological material.
 
11. An apparatus (200) according to claim 10, wherein said apparatus is being configured, in respect of each specific of said two or more biological materials, to identify two or more different and predetermined morphological states, based on said images captured by said image capturing device (10), of that specific biological material, and wherein in the event of each such different and predetermined morphological state has been reached in respect of a specific biological material, said apparatus is being configured to capture a FLIM spectrum of said specific biological material in respect of each such predetermined morphological state.
 
12. An apparatus (200) according to claim 11, wherein said apparatus in respect of each of said two or more biological materials is being configured for analyzing differences of the FLIM spectra corresponding to two or more different morphological states of the same biological material.
 
13. A system (300) for incubation of a viable biological material;
said system comprises:

- an apparatus (200) according to any of the claims 1 - 12, in combination with

- one or more culture dishes (8).


 
14. Use of an apparatus (200) according to any of the claims 1 - 12 or of a system (300) according to claim 13 for incubation of a viable biological material (2); with the proviso that said use does not relate to commercial, industrial and/or destructive use of a human embryo.
 
15. Use according to claim 14 with the additional purpose of empirically determining optimum protocols relating to physical and/or chemical conditions of a biological material (2) during the incubation thereof.
 
16. A method for assessing optimum incubation conditions for a viable biological material, said method comprising the following steps:

i) providing an apparatus (200) according to any of the claims 1 - 12 or a system (300) according to claim 13;

ii) accommodating at least two culture dishes, each comprising one or more viable biological materials in separate culture dish compartments of said apparatus;

iii) incubating said biological materials at incubation conditions, wherein the physical and/or chemical incubation conditions in respect of biological material being accommodated in one culture dish compartment differs by one or more parameters from the physical and/or chemical incubation conditions in respect of biological material being accommodated in another culture dish compartment;

iv) during step iii), using the FLIM unit of said apparatus for capturing FLIM spectra;

v) assessment of the quality of the biological material based on said FLIM spectra;
with the proviso that said method does not involve commercial, industrial and/or destructive use of a human embryo.


 
17. A method according to claim 16, wherein the most optimum physical and/or chemical incubation conditions are being determined, based on said FLIM spectra.
 


Ansprüche

1. Einrichtung (200) zur Inkubation eines wachstumsfähigen biologischen Materials (2);
wobei die Einrichtung umfasst:
ein Gehäuse (4), welches eine Erstreckung in eine Längsrichtung X, eine Querrichtung Y und eine Richtung Z senkrecht zu der Längsrichtung und der Querrichtung aufweist, wobei das Gehäuse umfasst:

zwei oder mehrere Kulturschalenkompartimente (6), welche jeweils adaptiert sind, um eine oder mehrere Kulturschalen (8) aufzunehmen, welche ein biologisches Material (2) umfassen;

wobei die Einrichtung eine Bilderfassungsvorrichtung (10) umfasst;

wobei die Einrichtung eine Steuereinheit (12) zum Steuern des Betriebs davon umfasst;

wobei zumindest ein Teil der Bilderfassungsvorrichtung konfiguriert ist, um in Bezug auf die zwei oder mehreren Kulturschalenkompartimente (6) verschiebbar zu sein, wodurch Erfassung von Bildern von einem oder mehreren der biologischen Materialien (2), welche in der einen oder den mehreren Kulturschalen (8) aufgenommen sind, ermöglicht wird; und

wobei die Einrichtung eine FLIM-Einheit (11) umfasst (Fluoreszenzlebensdauer-Mikroskop);

wobei zumindest ein Teil der FLIM-Einheit (11) konfiguriert ist, um in Bezug auf die zwei oder mehreren Kulturschalenkompartimente (6) verschiebbar zu sein, wodurch Erfassung von FLIM-Spektren von einem oder mehreren der biologischen Materialien (2), welche in der einen oder den mehreren Kulturschalen (8) aufgenommen sind, ermöglicht wird:
wobei die FLIM-Einheit unabhängig umfasst:

- eine Laserquelle, wie beispielsweise eine gepulste Laserquelle, wie beispielsweise einen Diodenlaser oder einen Multiphotonenanregungslaser; und optional auch eines oder mehrere der folgenden Elemente:

- einen einzelphotonensensitiven Detektor;

- einen dichroitischen Spiegel (zur Trennung von Fluoreszenzsignal von dem Erregerlicht);

- ein Objektiv (zum Fokussieren von Erregerlicht in Proben und/oder zum Sammeln von Fluoreszenzsignal);

- ein Steuerungssystem zum Steuern der FLIM-Einheit;

wobei die Laserquelle an optische Mittel zum Transportieren von elektromagnetischer Strahlung, wie beispielsweise eine oder mehrere Glasfasern, gekoppelt ist, wobei die optischen Mittel ein distales Ende umfassen, welches konfiguriert ist, um nahe zu dem biologischen Material geführt zu werden, um elektromagnetische Strahlung durch Übertragung zu transportieren.


 
2. Einrichtung (200) nach Anspruch 1, wobei eines oder mehrere der individuellen Kulturschalenkompartimente (6), bevorzugt alle die Kulturschalenkompartimente seinen eigenen individuellen Deckel (14) umfasst, wobei der jeweilige Deckel konfiguriert ist, um in der Lage zu sein, zwischen einer offenen Konfiguration , welche Zugriff auf das entsprechende Kulturschalenkompartiment (6) bereitstellt, und einer geschlossenen Konfiguration, in welcher das entsprechende Kulturschalenkompartiment von der Umgebung abgedichtet ist, zu wechseln.
 
3. Einrichtung (200) nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, weiter Temperaturregelungsmittel (16) für individuelle und unabhängige Regelung der Temperatur in einem oder mehreren der individuellen Kulturschalenkompartimente (6), bevorzugt in jedem von den individuellen Kulturschalenkompartimenten umfassend.
 
4. Einrichtung (200) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 - 3, weiter Gaszusammensetzungsregelungsmittel (22) für individuelle Regelung der Gaszusammensetzung, wie beispielsweise die Konzentration von Sauerstoff, Kohlendioxid und/oder Stickstoff in einem oder mehreren der individuellen Kulturschalenkompartimente (6), bevorzugt in dem jeden von den individuellen Kulturschalenkompartimenten umfassend.
 
5. Einrichtung (200) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei hinsichtlich des einen oder der mehreren der individuellen Kulturschalenkompartimente (6), bevorzugt hinsichtlich jedes individuellen Kulturschalenkompartiments, das individuelle Kulturschalenkompartiment ein transparentes Bord (24) zum Tragen einer Kulturschale umfasst; und wobei die Bilderfassungsvorrichtung (10) und die FLIM-Einheit (11), oder zumindest die Teile davon, welche elektromagnetische Strahlung übermitteln und empfangen, unter den Bords angeordnet und adaptiert ist/sind, um verschiebbar zu sein, um Übertragen und/oder Erfassen von elektromagnetischer Strahlung zu/von dem biologischen Material (2), welches in einer beliebigen von den Kulturschalen (8) aufgenommen ist, welche in einer beliebigen von den Kulturschalenkompartimenten (6) aufgenommen sind, durch die Bords (24) zu ermöglichen.
 
6. Einrichtung (200) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei die FLIM-Einheit für Autofluoreszenz von Nikotinamidadenin (NADH) und/oder für Autofluoreszenz von Flavinadenindinukleotid (FAD) konfiguriert ist, welche in dem Metabolismus des biologischen Materials involviert sind.
 
7. Einrichtung (200) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Einrichtung für Betrieb in einem Modus mit zeitkorrelierter Einzelphotonenzählung (TCSPC) konfiguriert ist.
 
8. Einrichtung (200) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Einrichtung für Betrieb in einem FRET-Modus oder in einem FRAP-Modus oder in einem PLIM-Modus (Phosporeszenzlebensdauer-Mikroskopie) konfiguriert ist.
 
9. Einrichtung (200) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Einrichtung während des Fluoreszenzbetriebs konfiguriert ist, in der Zeitdomäne oder in der Frequenzdomäne betrieben zu werden.
 
10. Einrichtung (200) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Einrichtung konfiguriert ist, um zwei oder mehrere biologische Materialien in der Form von Eizellen oder Embryos zu inkubieren; wobei die Einrichtung hinsichtlich jedes spezifischen der zwei oder mehreren biologischen Materialien konfiguriert ist, auf Basis von Bildern, welche durch die Bilderfassungsvorrichtung (10) erfasst wurden, einen vorbestimmten morphologischen Zustand des spezifischen biologischen Materials zu identifizieren; und wobei die Einrichtung konfiguriert ist, um in dem Fall, dass ein vorbestimmter morphologischer Zustand hinsichtlich eines spezifischen biologischen Materials erreicht wurde, ein FLIM-Spektrum des spezifischen biologischen Materials zu erfassen.
 
11. Einrichtung (200) nach Anspruch 10, wobei die Einrichtung konfiguriert ist, um hinsichtlich jedes spezifischen der zwei oder mehreren biologischen Materialien zwei oder mehrere unterschiedliche und vorbestimmte morphologische Zustände auf Basis der Bilder, welche durch die Bilderfassungsvorrichtung (10) erfasst wurden, von diesem spezifischen biologischen Material zu identifizieren, und wobei in dem Fall, dass jeder von solchen unterschiedlichen und vorbestimmten morphologischen Zuständen hinsichtlich eines spezifischen biologischen Materials erreicht wurde, die Einrichtung konfiguriert ist, um ein FLIM-Spektrum des spezifischen biologischen Materials hinsichtlich jedes solchen vorbestimmten morphologischen Zustands zu erfassen.
 
12. Einrichtung (200) nach Anspruch 11, wobei die Einrichtung hinsichtlich jedes der zwei oder mehreren biologischen Materialien für Analysieren von Unterschieden der FLIM-Spektren, welche zwei oder mehreren unterschiedlichen morphologischen Zuständen desselben biologischen Materials entsprechen, konfiguriert ist.
 
13. System (300) zur Inkubation eines wachstumsfähigen biologischen Materials;
wobei das System umfasst:

- eine Einrichtung (200) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 - 12 in Kombination mit

- einer oder mehreren Kulturschalen (8).


 
14. Verwendung einer Einrichtung (200) nach einem der Ansprüche 1- 12 oder eines Systems (300) nach Anspruch 13 für Inkubation eines wachstumsfähigen biologischen Materials (2); unter der Voraussetzung, dass die Verwendung sich nicht auf kommerzielle, industrielle und/oder destruktive Verwendung eines menschlichen Embryos bezieht.
 
15. Verwendung nach Anspruch 14 mit dem zusätzlichen Zweck des empirischen Bestimmens von optimalen Protokollen in Bezug auf physikalische und/oder chemische Bedingungen eines biologischen Materials (2) während der Inkubation davon.
 
16. Verfahren zum Bewerten optimaler Inkubationsbedingungen für ein wachstumsfähiges biologisches Material, wobei das Verfahren die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

i) Bereitstellen einer Einrichtung (200) nach einem der Ansprüche 1- 12 oder eines Systems (300) nach Anspruch 13;

ii) Aufnehmen von zumindest zwei Kulturschalen, welche jeweils ein oder mehrere wachstumsfähige biologische Materialien in getrennten Kulturschalenkompartimenten der Einrichtung umfassen;

iii) Inkubieren der biologischen Materialien bei Inkubationsbedingungen, wobei die physikalischen und/oder chemischen Inkubationsbedingungen hinsichtlich biologischen Materials, welches in einem Kulturschalenkompartiment aufgenommen ist, sich durch einen oder mehrere Parameter von den physikalischen und/oder chemischen Inkubationsbedingungen hinsichtlich biologischen Materials, welches in einem anderen Kulturschalenkompartiment aufgenommen ist, unterscheiden;

iv) während Schritt iii), Verwenden der FLIM-Einheit der Einrichtung zum Erfassen von FLIM-Spektren;

v) Bewertung der Qualität des biologischen Materials auf Basis der FLIM-Spektren;
unter der Voraussetzung, dass das Verfahren keine kommerzielle, industrielle und/oder destruktive Verwendung eines menschlichen Embryos mit sich bringt.


 
17. Verfahren nach Anspruch 16, wobei die optimalsten physikalischen und/oder chemischen Inkubationsbedingungen auf Basis der FLIM-Spektren bestimmt werden.
 


Revendications

1. Appareil (200) pour l'incubation d'un matériau biologique viable (2) ;
ledit appareil comprend :
un boîtier (4) ayant une extension dans une direction longitudinale X, dans une direction transversale Y, et dans une direction Z perpendiculaire à la direction longitudinale et à la direction transversale ; ledit boîtier comprenant :

au moins deux compartiments de boîtes de culture (6), chacun étant conçu pour recevoir une ou plusieurs boîtes de culture (8) comprenant un matériau biologique (2) ;

dans lequel ledit appareil comprend un dispositif de capture d'image (10) ;

dans lequel ledit appareil comprend une unité de commande (12) pour commander le fonctionnement de celui-ci ;

dans lequel au moins une partie dudit dispositif de capture d'image est conçue pour être mobile par rapport aux au moins deux compartiments de boîtes de culture (6), permettant ainsi la capture d'images d'un ou de plusieurs desdits matériaux biologiques (2) logés dans ladite ou lesdites boîtes de culture (8) ; et

dans lequel ledit appareil comprend une unité FLIM (11) (microscope d'imagerie à durée de vie de fluorescence) ;

dans lequel au moins une partie de ladite unité FLIM (11) est conçue pour être mobile par rapport aux au moins deux compartiments de boîtes de culture (6), permettant ainsi la capture de spectres FLIM d'un ou de plusieurs desdits matériaux biologiques (2) logés dans ladite ou lesdites boîtes de culture (8) ;

dans lequel ladite unité FLIM comprend indépendamment :

- une source laser, telle qu'une source laser à impulsion, telle qu'une diode laser ou un laser à excitation multiphotonique ; et facultativement également un ou plusieurs des éléments suivants :

- un détecteur sensible au photon unique ;

- un miroir dichroïque (pour la séparation du signal de fluorescence de la lumière d'excitation) ;

- un objectif (pour focaliser la lumière d'excitation dans l'échantillon et/ou collecter le signal de fluorescence) ;

- un système de commande pour commander ladite unité FLIM ;

dans lequel ladite source laser est couplée à un moyen optique pour transporter le rayonnement électromagnétique, tel qu'une ou plusieurs fibres optiques, ledit moyen optique comprenant une extrémité distale étant conçue pour être dirigée à proximité du matériau biologique, pour transporter par transmission, le rayonnement électromagnétique.


 
2. Appareil (200) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel un ou plusieurs desdits compartiments de boîtes de culture (6) individuels, de préférence tous lesdits compartiments de boîtes de culture comprennent leur propre couvercle individuel (14), dans lequel chaque dit couvercle est configuré pour pouvoir passer d'une configuration ouverte offrant l'accès au compartiment de boîte de culture (6) correspondant à une configuration fermée dans laquelle le compartiment de boîte de culture correspondant est isolé de l'environnement et inversement.
 
3. Appareil (200) selon la revendication 1 ou 2 comprenant en outre un moyen de régulation de la température (16) pour la régulation individuelle et indépendante de la température dans un ou plusieurs desdits compartiments de boîtes de culture (6) individuels, de préférence dans chacun desdits compartiment de boîte de culture individuels.
 
4. Appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3 comprenant en outre un moyen de régulation de la composition de gaz (22) pour la régulation individuelle de la composition de gaz, telle que la concentration en oxygène, dioxyde de carbone et/ou azote dans un ou plusieurs desdits compartiments de boîtes de culture (6) individuels, de préférence dans chacun desdits compartiment de boîte de culture individuels.
 
5. Appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel concernant un ou plusieurs desdits compartiments de boîtes de culture (6) individuels, de préférence concernant chaque compartiment de boîte de culture individuel, ledit compartiment de boîte de culture individuel comprend une étagère transparente (24) pour supporter une boîte de culture ; et dans lequel ledit dispositif de capture d'image (10) et ladite unité FLIM (11), ou au moins les parties de ceux-ci transmettant et recevant le rayonnement électromagnétique, est/sont agencés au-dessous desdites étagères et est/sont conçus pour être mobiles de façon à permettre la transmission et/ou la capture du rayonnement électromagnétique, à travers lesdites étagères (24), jusqu'à/depuis ledit matériau biologique (2) logé dans l'une quelconque desdites boîtes de culture (8) logées dans l'un quelconque desdits compartiments de boîtes de culture (6).
 
6. Appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel ladite unité FLIM est conçue pour l'autofluorescence de la nicotinamide adénine (NADH) et/ou pour l'autofluorescence du flavine-adénine-dinucléotide (FAD) impliquées dans le métabolisme du matériau biologique.
 
7. Appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel ledit appareil est conçu pour fonctionner dans un mode de comptage de photons uniques corrélé en temps (TCSPC).
 
8. Appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel ledit appareil est conçu pour fonctionner dans un mode FRET ou dans un mode FRAP ou dans un mode PLIM (microscopie d'imagerie à durée de vie de phosphorescence).
 
9. Appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel ledit appareil pendant les opérations de fluorescence est conçu pour fonctionner dans le domaine temporel ou dans le domaine fréquentiel.
 
10. Appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel ledit appareil est conçu pour incuber au moins deux matériaux biologiques sous la forme d'ovocytes ou d'embryons ; dans lequel ledit appareil concernant chaque matériau biologique spécifique desdits au moins deux matériaux biologiques est conçu, sur la base d'images capturées par ledit dispositif de capture d'images (10), pour identifier un état morphologique prédéterminé dudit matériau biologique spécifique ; et dans lequel ledit appareil est conçu, dans le cas où un état morphologique prédéterminé a été atteint concernant un matériau biologique spécifique, pour capturer un spectre FLIM dudit matériau biologique spécifique.
 
11. Appareil (200) selon la revendication 10, dans lequel ledit appareil est conçu, concernant chaque matériau biologique spécifique desdits au moins deux matériaux biologiques, pour identifier au moins deux états morphologiques différents et prédéterminés, sur la base desdites images capturées par ledit dispositif de capture d'images (10), de ce matériau biologique spécifique, et dans lequel dans le cas où chaque dit état morphologique différent et prédéterminé a été atteint concernant un matériau biologique spécifique, ledit appareil est conçu pour capturer un spectre FLIM dudit matériau biologique spécifique concernant chaque dit état morphologique prédéterminé.
 
12. Appareil (200) selon la revendication 11, dans lequel ledit appareil concernant chacun desdits au moins deux matériaux biologiques est conçu pour analyser les différences des spectres FLIM correspondant à au moins deux états morphologiques différents du même matériau biologique.
 
13. Système (300) pour l'incubation d'un matériau biologique viable ;
ledit système comprend :

- un appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 12, en combinaison avec

- une ou plusieurs boîtes de culture (8).


 
14. Utilisation d'un appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 12 ou d'un système (300) selon la revendication 13 pour l'incubation d'un matériau biologique viable (2) ; à la condition que ladite utilisation ne concerne pas l'utilisation commerciale, industrielle et/ou destructive d'un embryon humain.
 
15. Utilisation selon la revendication 14 avec l'objet supplémentaire de déterminer de façon empirique des protocoles optimaux concernant les conditions physiques et/ou chimiques d'un matériau biologique (2) pendant l'incubation de celui-ci.
 
16. Procédé d'évaluation des conditions d'incubation optimales pour un matériau biologique viable, ledit procédé comprenant les étapes suivantes :

i) fourniture d'un appareil (200) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 12 ou d'un système (200) selon la revendication 13 ;

ii) logement d'au moins deux boîtes de culture, chacune comprenant un ou plusieurs matériaux biologiques viables dans des compartiments de boîtes de culture distincts dudit appareil ;

iii) incubation desdits matériaux biologiques dans des conditions d'incubation, dans lequel les conditions d'incubation physiques et/ou chimiques concernant le matériau biologique logé dans un compartiment de boîte de culture diffèrent d'un ou plusieurs paramètres des conditions d'incubation physiques et/ou chimiques concernant le matériau biologique logé dans un autre compartiment de boîte de culture ;

iv) pendant l'étape iii), utilisation de l'unité FLIM dudit appareil pour la capture de spectres FLIM ;

v) évaluation de la qualité du matériau biologique sur la base desdits spectres FLIM ;
à la condition que ledit procédé n'implique pas l'utilisation commerciale, industrielle et/ou destructive d'un embryon humain.


 
17. Procédé selon la revendication 16, dans lequel les conditions d'incubation physiques et/ou chimiques les plus optimales sont déterminées, sur la base desdits spectres FLIM.
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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Patent documents cited in the description