Major Advances Now Helping South Africans with Impaired Reproductive Biology

Advances in our understanding of reproductive biology made during the past two decades have led to renewed hope for many of those couples that may once have been condemned, as the result of some bodily malfunction, to remain childless. Today, artificial insemination by donor (AID) has been further augmented by the development of effective in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques followed by uterine implantation of the fertilised ovum. Together, such procedures have been responsible for enabling many infertile couples to have a family when, without such interventions, they would have been denied that opportunity.

Today, what might earlier have been regarded as a medical miracle, has now assumed the status of a relatively routine procedure. Such procedures would, however, have not been possible at all were it not for the successful development of the specialised equipment and assortment of reagents needed in order to execute each individual step of these painstaking and demanding techniques.

The term ‘test tube baby’ that is often favoured by the popular press actually does very little to credit the many complex and exacting steps that are involved in carrying out these assisted reproductive procedures.  Where the normal biology of a partner may be impaired for one reason or another, today’s technology is now managing to provide would-be parents with practical solutions that work and IEPSA is a South African company that has been involved in the supply and the support of that technology ever since it first became available to patients in this country.

Despite the popular reference to test-tubes, the cultivation of human ova is actually carried out in shallow containers known as Petri dishes that are also used by bacteriologists for the growth of various microorganisms. A typical IVF procedure begins with a study of the woman’s ovulatory cycle, stimulating it where necessary, and harvesting the resulting eggs. These are then exposed, under lab conditions, to live sperm suspended in a special fluid medium. This stage may require direct injection into an ovum where the penetrative ability of sperm is impaired. The mix is then inspected and any fertilised ova are then cultivated in yet another specialised medium for a period of between 2 and 6 days after which one or more of these will then be embedded into the mother’s uterine wall in order to initiate a pregnancy. Though this is an accurate summary of the technique used to assist normal reproductive biology, it is also a gross simplification.

Not only is a special installation designed to maintain an ultra-clean environment free of particulate matter essential, but all reagents employed must be sterile and prepared to critical specifications while all of the equipment and instruments involved must also be totally free of any contamination. Where live ova or spermatozoa may need to be stored, normal refrigeration units will prove totally inadequate so an efficient cryogenic facility and a source of liquid nitrogen will also be vital in order to assure the continued viability of this delicate living material.

This is just a short shopping list detailing some of the most important requirements for clinics and the specialise personnel that undertake these procedures. At IEPSA, we have taken every possible care to source the most reliable manufacturers of these and the many other items that together are crucial to their success and to the wellbeing of the patients undergoing treatments to augment some aspect of reproductive biology that may have proved to be inhibiting their attempts to achieve a normal pregnancy.

To assist clinics to create the ideal environmental conditions for IVF we offer efficient Zander Scientific air purification systems from the German manufacturer MTG. In a four-step procedure, these units successively utilise a carbon filter to absorb volatile organics, an HEPA filter to remove microscopic particles like pollen and spores, photo-catalytic oxidation to degrade toxins and remove odours and an ultraviolet lights to kill non-filterable viruses and bacteria.

High quality media, automated packaging and identification equipment and various consumables along with sophisticated storage management software are all sourced from the French company, Cryo Bio System, also a leader in this field. Its consumable products include straws for sample storage, removable goblets for use in liquid nitrogen containers and racks to hold and stack the goblets along with connectors, tubing and nozzles for aspiration and injection uses.

Together, with the advanced cryopreservation systems from Planer also important to transplantation surgery, IEPSA offer the most complete range of products for assisted reproductive biology available in South Africa.

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