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Israeli embryo-selecting system to boost IVF success gets European green light

Fairtility’s CEO says his AI tool makes the right call 78% of the time regarding which embryos will implant, compared to embryologists who are correct around 60% of the time

Nathan Jeffay is The Times of Israel's health and science correspondent

Illustrative image: a single sperm is injected directly into an egg as part of IVF (Lars Neumann via iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image: a single sperm is injected directly into an egg as part of IVF (Lars Neumann via iStock by Getty Images)

An automated Israeli-built system for predicting which IVF embryos are likely to result in pregnancies has received European approval for use in clinics, Tel Aviv-based Fairtility said Monday.

The company said that the tool was already being used on a trial basis in 30 clinics in Europe and Asia when it received the CE Mark under European Medical Devices Regulation last month — and use is now expected to grow.

Next year the company will apply for approval by America’s Food and Drug Administration.

When women undergo IVF treatment, there are generally several embryos, and the embryologist makes a judgment call regarding which are most likely to implant. They then select the most promising embryo or embryos.

Fairtility is one of a handful of companies that provides AI technology to help embryologists with this decision, by examining images of each embryo and ranking their potential based on an analysis of past IVF cases.

“The way that embryo selection is done today is very rudimentary and very subjective,” Fairtility CEO Eran Eshed told The Times of Israel, adding that peer-reviewed research published in Scientific Reports suggests that his tool is more likely to predict accurately whether an embryo will or won’t implant.

“While an embryologist will be right in 60% of the cases, our AI tool got 78% in the test we did, which incorporated a large age range and demographic,” Eshed said.

The dashboard of Fairtility’s AI tool for analyzing embryos (courtesy of Fairtility)

He explained that this research was conducted by judging the potential of embryos from past IVF cycles and cross-referencing the results with real-world information about which embryos actually implanted.

Eshed and his colleagues have been developing the AI tool, which is called CHLOE EQ, since 2020. They used videos from time-lapse incubation technology, which captures a single embryo image every 15 to 20 minutes, providing a detailed and continuous overview of the embryo as it develops. They then built the algorithm at the center of the technology by analyzing the characteristics of successful and unsuccessful embryos.

Clinics don’t need any special hardware to use the tool — most already have the imaging systems, and they just integrate the software for analyzing the footage into their computer systems.

Eran Eshed, CEO of Fairtility (courtesy of Fairtility)

Dr. Assaf Ben-Meir, Fairtility’s chief medical officer, said that the aim of the technology is to reduce the heartache experienced by individuals and couples undergoing IVF when cycles fail.

“As clinicians, our goal is to give patients the best options to get pregnant and reach a healthy baby,” he said. “Any process, tool, or technology that can improve these chances is critical as it can decrease time to pregnancy, as well as the emotional and economic burden for patients.

“This performance delivered by our tool is clinically significant and can potentially contribute to financial savings and better outcomes in the IVF space. Plus, the artificial intelligence tool has the advantage of accurate, objective, repeatable, and automatic results with human error reduced,” he said.

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