In recent years, the in vitro fertilization (IVF) program at Mass General, led by Vincent OB/GYN faculty, set an ambitious goal — to elevate the success rate of freezing human eggs. This is extremely challenging. Compared with sperm, which are easily frozen, eggs often are damaged in the freezing and thawing process, losing their viability.

Research teams, headed by Thomas Toth (right), MD, director of the IVF Unit, and Mehmet Toner, PhD (left), director of the BioMicroElectromechanical Systems Resource Center, recently developed a revolutionary technique in which a tiny straw-like tube made of highly conductive quartz cools the eggs about 100 times faster than a blink of an eye.

Lab studies show these eggs have a high viability rate. “The ability to more successfully freeze eggs is a great unmet need,” says Dr. Toth, who has launched clinical trials. “It will not only help patients facing cancer therapies but also other women who need help preserving their fertility.”