Thinking big by thinking small: application of microfluidic technology to improve ART
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) laboratories often carry a penchant to resist change while in the pursuit of maintaining consistency in laboratory conditions. However, implementation of new technology is often critical to expand scientific discoveries and to improve upon prior successes to advance the field. Microfluidic platforms represent a technology that has the potential to revolutionize the fundamental processes of IVF. While the focus of microfluidic application in IVF has centered on embryo culture, the innovative platforms carry tremendous potential to improve other procedural steps and represents a possible paradigm shift in how we handle gametes and embryos. The following review will highlight application of various microfluidic platforms in IVF for use in maturation, manipulation, culture, cryopreservation and non-invasive quality assessment; pointing out new insights gained into functions of sperm, oocytes and embryos. Platform design and function will also be discussed, focusing on limitations, advancements and future refinements that can further aid in their clinical implementation.