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the embryos under microscopes to look for visible indications that they would lead to pregnancies, a subjective method that can yield very different results depending on the person doing the examination. Molecular Biometrics’s system, on the other hand, tests for the levelsof certain small molecules that embryo cells produce from metabolizing nutrients. Then algorithms are used to compare the results to those of more than 3,000 previously tested samples—embryos whose molecular, or “metabolomic,” signatures most closely match those of previously tested embryos that produced successful pregnancies are then chosen to be transferred back to the mother.
Posillico said that his firm’s technology increases the chance of a pregnancy by 15 to 33 percent, and it hopes that helping doctors select the most viable embryos will reduce the total number of embryos that they transfer to each IVF patient. Using multiple embryos is a common technique for boosting the chance of a pregnancy, but organizations such as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine have provided guidelines to limit the number of embryos in efforts to reduce twin, triplet, and higher-multiple pregnancies. Such multiple pregnancies can be medically risky for both the mother and the babies.
Posillico knows the IVF and reproductive health markets well. Prior to founding Molecular Biometrics, he co-founded and served as CEO for a developer of reproductive treatments and medical devices called Sage BioPharma; in 2002 he sold Sage to Trumbull, CT-based Cooper Surgical for an undisclosed sum. Posillico has also been a senior executive with other life sciences firms such as Swiss biotech company Serono (now Merck Serono) and Canadian biotech InterMune Life Sciences.
Molecular Biometrics says that its metabolomic technology is also in development for testing the health of fetuses during pregnancies as well as for use in tests for pulmonary edema and other conditions.