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Title: Infra-red laser applications in the reproductive sciences : improving safety for assisted reproductive technology and developing novel research tools
Author: Davidson, Lien M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 3095
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has been rapidly expanding since the birth of Louise Brown, the first test tube baby, in 1978. Although an increasingly complex array of laboratory skills and procedures have been developed for infertility treatments, the success rate of ART remains low. In an attempt to make ART safer and more efficient, international medical practice is trending towards single embryo transfers and the use of innovative, sophisticated technologies to identify promising gametes and embryos with the highest potential to generate a pregnancy. Laser technology is increasingly being used to accomplish these aims. The application of lasers for ART has been successfully employed in clinical practice for some time now and is continually the subject of investigative research in order to generate new methods to improve operations. Moreover, lasers serve as a powerful tool at the forefront of investigative research in the reproductive sciences, assisting in broadening our understanding of reproductive and developmental biology. Nevertheless, there is a paucity of literature pertaining to the safe standardisation of such laser procedures with evidence at the molecular level. The primary aim of this thesis was to optimise applications of laser technology for clinical ART and research applications in the reproductive sciences. This thesis utilised the mouse embryo model to investigate potential deleterious effects of different laser treatment applications, both by the operator and hardware manufacturer. Safe and unsafe laser operator parameters were elucidated by assessing deleterious effects to the plasma membrane integrity, blastocyst survival rate, DNA fragmentation levels, and changes in gene expression of key developmental genes. The effect of altering the laser hardware to lower the power output was evaluated and it was determined that if a lower power laser is used to deliver a set amount of energy over a longer period of time, a smaller amount of damage is incurred. Work in this thesis also established a new method in which laser technology can be used as a research tool for the reproductive sciences, by creating a novel stimuli-responsive laser-activated nanoparticle delivery system with spatial control and increased efficiency in a mammalian cell model. The field of reproductive science continues to benefit greatly from laser application clinically to improve infertility treatments, and in research, to elucidate mechanisms underlying infertility, with a hope of increasing our understanding and eventually developing new treatment options.
Supervisor: Coward, Kevin Sponsor: Clarendon Fund ; Rosetrees Trust ; Research Instruments UK
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Infra-red laser ; Mesoporous silica nanoparticle ; Mouse embryo ; Preimplantation embryo ; Infertility ; Assisted reproductive technology