Virginia IVF and Andrology Center

Dr. Dennis Matt

Virginia IVF & Andrology Center

There is no greater gift than the gift of life. As scientific director and co-founder of the Virginia IVF and Andrology Center (VAIVF), Dr. Dennis Matt has provided this gift to patients struggling to have a successful pregnancy. Over the course of 25 years, Dr. Matt watched the world of assisted reproductive technology (ART) evolve. He recalls the significant milestones of ICSI’s procedural development, the success of vitrification, and the present day use of Next Generation Sequencing.

Dennis Matt VAIVF

Pre-Implantation Genetic Testing (PGT) is now the predominant method for treating patients at VAIVF. Being able to test embryos for chromosome abnormalities has improved pregnancy rates and reduced the risk of miscarriage. In 2014, Dr. Matt’s team only performed PGT on 10% of patients and in 2017 the percentage jumped to 65%. To meet the increased demand, Dr. Matt uses both the ZILOS and LYKOS to perform blastocyst trophectoderm biopsy for PGT.

Dr. Matt first purchased the ZILOS in 2005 to perform embryo biopsies and laser assisted hatching. Following the satisfaction of using the product, Dr. Matt purchased the LYKOS in 2016. He enjoys that our lasers are dependable and user-friendly. “Every day, I know these lasers perform consistently without errors in either the mechanics or software,” he says, “What’s great about both systems is that the user software is nearly identical, so it is easy to go from one to the other.”

Although PGT is now a well-developed procedure, there are still obstacles that may prevent a successful outcome. Dr. Matt states, “The challenge for PGT is being able to biopsy the blastocyst to get enough cells for a reliable genetic read while not taking too many cells to impede the ability of the blastocyst to develop, implant and establish a healthy pregnancy.” Therefore, it is imperative that embryologists perfect their micromanipulation skills. As a hands-on director who dedicates as much time as needed to assist his staff, Dr. Matt appreciates that our lasers are easy to train junior embryologists to use. “My younger embryologists really enjoy using the LYKOS with its RED-i feature and the ability to view the target through the objective. We really enjoy the video and camera features which are easy to use and accessible with a click of the mouse.”

Dr. Matt continues being a Hamilton Thorne customer because he feels, “the quality of the products I have used are unsurpassed. In addition, the technical support is top notch and I know if I ever need technical assistance there is a knowledgeable person a phone call away.” He also notes that the Hamilton Thorne sales team consists of technical experts who understand all the products.

The process of undergoing ART procedures can be a long, daunting journey for patients, but Dr. Matt states, “We believe we have developed a method which gives us a 99% genetic read rate and a 70% pregnancy rate for our PGT patients.” Using the ZILOS and LYKOS for PGT has provided a safe, stable procedure for hopeful mothers. Dr. Matt concludes by saying, “the most satisfying aspect of being an embryologist is to see after all the technically challenging methods you have to perform, a patient gets to fulfill their dream to have a healthy baby.”

If you would like us to profile one of your customers, please contact Natasha Sudiaman at nsudiaman [AT] hamiltonthorne [DOT] com.

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HT Customer Profile: Angela Crean (University of Sydney Animal Research Group)

We are what we eat—or maybe what our fathers eat. Could a father’s diet affect his sperm quality, and therefore affect his children? These are the questions that University of Sydney Animal Reproduction Group (ARGUS) post-doctoral researcher Angela Crean is trying to answer.

Dr. Angela Crean in Lab (Courtesy of ARGUS)

Dr. Crean is currently investigating the impact of dietary sugar on the sperm and offspring. To test her hypothesis, she needs to measure the sperm’s kinematic traits. She uses the IVOS II to provide a rapid analysis of the sperm’s swimming quality.

The IVOS II’s versatility allows Dr. Crean to expand her research across a wide range of species. She states, “Since moving to mammal research in 2016, I have been enjoying the ease of which sperm movement can be quantified using the IVOS II.”

Although Dr. Crean’s research is still in its investigatory stages, her long-term goal is to develop new strategies to help couples facing fertility issues.

Before researching mammals, Dr. Crean performed extensive studies on marine life such as sea squirts (ascidians). Recently, she has been involved in a new conservation initiative to help corals, which, like sea squirts, reproduce using broadcast spawning. The new conservation effort is examining “assisted evolution” methods to breed corals that are more resistant to climate warming and ocean acidification.

She says, “While it would be preferable to reduce the threat and allow populations to adapt naturally on their own, the project recognizes that we may be running out of time, and therefore seeks to develop strategies to help corals adapt using ideas generated from fundamental research such as my own.”

In addition to Dr. Crean’s work, there are other research projects happening at ARGUS, such as using cues of sperm competition to improve sperm function prior to use in IVF; the effects of seminal plasma proteins and high density lipoproteins on sperm capacitation and in vitro fertilizing ability; and the effect of penicillamine on sperm agglutination and fertilization success.

The University of Sydney personnel have been long-time clients of Hamilton Thorne, and our products play a key role to assist their research. Dr. Crean believes prospective customers should know that “although there is currently no Australian representative for Hamilton Thorne, the support team can log into our system remotely to check if everything is running smoothly, and regularly update our software.”

Dr. Crean enjoys how the IVOS II is user-friendly and adaptable, but she believes “the best feature is the outstanding customer support provided by Hamilton Thorne, who are always happy to help troubleshoot problems and consider suggestions for future improvements.”

If you would like us to profile one of your customers, please contact Natasha Sudiaman at


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Hamilton Thorne Joins Global Fertility Alliance for Excellence in Assisted Reproductive Treatment

Global Fertility Alliance Aims to Advance Excellence in Fertility Technologies and Processes Within the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Laboratory

BEVERLY, MA and TORONTO, Ontario – June 30, 2016 – Hamilton Thorne Ltd. (TSX-V: HTL), a leading provider of precision laser devices and advanced image analysis systems for the assisted reproduction, regenerative medicine and developmental biology research markets, today announced that it and Zeiss have joined founding members Illumina, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Genea as new members of the Global Fertility Alliance, a collaboration to advance excellence in fertility technologies and processes within the human assisted reproduction treatment (ART) laboratory.

“As a pioneer in the field of developing instruments for the in vitro fertilization clinic, advancing the science of fertility treatment is in the DNA of our company,” said David Wolf, CEO of Hamilton Thorne. “With excellence in ART as its tenet, the goal of the Global Fertility Alliance is to drive automation and standardization in fertility labs worldwide to promote better outcomes for patients.”

About Hamilton Thorne Ltd. (

Hamilton Thorne designs, manufactures and distributes precision laser devices and advanced imaging systems that reduce cost, increase productivity, improve results and enable breakthroughs in assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and developmental biology research markets. Hamilton Thorne’s laser products attach to standard inverted microscopes and operate as robotic micro-surgeons, enabling a wide array of scientific applications and IVF procedures. Its imaging systems improve outcomes in human IVF clinics and animal breeding facilities and provide high-end toxicology analyses. Hamilton Thorne’s growing worldwide customer base consists of pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, fertility clinics, university research centers, animal breeding companies, and other commercial and academic research establishments, including Harvard, MIT, Yale, McGill, Oxford, Cambridge, the Smithsonian Institution, Charles River Labs, Covance, ABS Global, Sexing Technologies, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and Dow Chemical.

About the Global Fertility Alliance

Recognizing the importance of innovation in ART technologies, the alliance aims to enhance progress and innovation in three ways. Firstly, the founding members aim to foster integration of multiple, leading fertility technologies. Secondly, building on this, the alliance will aim to collaborate with leading health care professionals and medical societies to develop global standards. And finally, as technologies in the fertility space are rapidly advancing, the alliance will also develop educational resources for health care professionals worldwide. These efforts will include training curricula and workshops as well as access to model labs, symposia and events at medical meetings. The Global Fertility Alliance was launched at the 31st Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in June 2015.

Neither the Toronto Venture Exchange, nor its regulation services provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the exchange), accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Certain information in this press release may contain forward-looking statements. This information is based on current expectations that are subject to significant risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict. Actual results might differ materially from results suggested in any forward-looking statements. The Company assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those reflected in the forward-looking statements unless and until required by securities laws applicable to the Company. Additional information identifying risks and uncertainties is contained in filings by the Company with the Canadian securities regulators, which filings are available at

For more information, please contact:

David Wolf, President & CEO
Hamilton Thorne Ltd

Michael Bruns, CFO
Hamilton Thorne Ltd.

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Customer Profile: Ronald Naumann

At the Transgenic Core Facility (TCF) of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology in Dresden, Germany, Group Leader Ronald Naumann is surrounded by rodents—knock-out mice that is.

Naumann’s job is to produce transgenic mice created with an altered DNA structure for research purposes. He uses Hamilton Thorne’s XYClone to help him perform laser assisted embryonic stem cell (ES) injection and the IVOS to measure the viability of previously frozen sperm.

Naumann started using the XYClone in 2007 after reading about the effectiveness of using laser assisted injection at the eight-cell stage instead of the conventional blastocyst injection methods being used at the time.

The article published in Nature Biotechnology used the XYClone to conduct comparisons between the two procedures, and the experiments “resulted in dramatically higher ES cell contribution than the blastocyst injections” (Poueymirou et al. 2007).

Following the discovery of CRISPR for gene editing in 2013, there has been concern about the usefulness of laser assisted ES-cell injection.

However, Naumann believes that there is still a valid need for the ES-cell injection technique and his lab generates 15 to 20 mouse lines a year using this process.

“The CRISPR technique works well in generating mice with point mutations or full Knock-Out by deletion,” Naumann says. “But scientists are working much more efficiently in researching gene functions using conditional Knock-out systems,” he continued.

“Conditional Knock-out is more interesting because it allows the gene and its product to be floxed (sleeping) in one tissue type or organ, for example the brain, but the protein would still be present in other organs.  With CRISPR, it is not yet possible to achieve this result. A conditional DNA construct is simply too large for an integration into the mouse genome by CRISPR.”

When producing these mutant mice, scientists follow an ethical code of conduct known as the Three R’s: replace the use of animals, reduce the number of animals used and refine the way experiments are conducted.

As a person who loves his profession and the animals he works with, Naumann believes “responsibility” should be added as an additional “R”. He expresses that using the XYClone assists him with refining his techniques of ES-cell injections which helps him responsibly decrease the number of mice sacrificed.

Naumann uses the IVOS for measurement protocols of frozen sperm.  He states, “Because ‘sperm freezing’ is one of our backup technologies, the IVOS plays a big role in our lab. A standard sperm project is closed with two protocols: One is a fresh sperm measurement and the second is a controlled sample of thawed sperm.”

Aware that his customers expect these parameters to be followed, Naumann performs an analysis with the IVOS to guarantee the sperm’s revitalization. In his experience with Hamilton Thorne over the years, Naumann feels the systems are easy to use and provide stability. “I like the RED-i function and the advantage that the laser is integrated into the objective,” he says.

He has also helped set up multiple transgenic facilities and in each lab he recommends use of the XYClone and the IVOS depending on the lab’s service portfolio. Naumann believes prospective customers should know about the efficiency and cost reduction provided by our systems.

He concludes by saying, “HT products provide a good method to make the reduction of animals real and supports the 3R’s guidelines in technical development.”

If you would like us to profile one of your customers, please contact Natasha Sudiaman at

References: Poeymirou WT et. al. F0 generation mice fully derived from gene-targeted embryonic stem cells allowing immediate phenotypic analyses. Nature Publishing Group. 2007 Jan; 25(1): 91-99. Open Article Access.

Zhang J et al. Conditional gene manipulation: Creating a new biological era. J. Zhejiang Univ-Sci B (Biomed & Biotechnol). 2012 Feb; 13(7): 511-524.

Download a copy of Ronald Naumann’s full customer profile here.

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CEO David Wolf Featured in Interview


Hamilton Thorne to accelerate acquisition program

Hamilton Thorne (TSX-V:HTL), a leading provider of precision laser devices and advanced imaging systems, plans to accelerate its acquisition program, mainly in the human clinical in-vitro fertilization (IVF) market, as part of a long-term growth strategy that also includes product innovation and organic growth.

“Our goal is to expand our product portfolio and capabilities with acquisitions of complementary products and businesses in order to provide a full range of instruments, consumables and services in IVF labs,” president and CEO, David Wolf, says in an interview with

“We are in active discussions on the acquisition front and have identified over 120 companies that fit into our strategy, of which 50-to-60 are in the Americas and northern and western Europe, and are realistic targets for 2016,” he adds.


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Dr. Liow – LYKOS Laser Testimonial

Dr. Liow, Scientific Director of Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore, was recently interviewed about his experiences with the Hamilton Thorne LYKOS laser.

Virtus Fertility Centre is a brand new IVF center just opened in December 2014 and is a member of Virtus Health Australia, the largest IVF provider in Australia.

To learn more about Dr. Liow and Virtus Fertility Centre, please visit their website.

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CARD-RPCI Cryopreservation Course Report

Hamilton Thorne recently participated in CARD-­RPCI Mouse Sperm and Embryo Cryopreservation Workshop at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo NY. Hamilton Thorne provided a XYRCOS laser system and a CEROS II sperm analyzer for the participants to use during the workshop. Click below link to read the ISTT blog post.

CARD-RPCI Cryopreservation Course Report.

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ASRM / IFFS 2013 – Video Poster Presentations

Hamilton Thorne CASA and laser products were featured in many of the poster and oral presentations at the America Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) 2013 annual meeting, held in Boston from October 13 through 16.

We thank Lani Burkman, Ph.D., and Rachana George, M.D. for taking the time to help us record videos of their poster presentations so we could share it with others.

Dr. Burkman’s poster, “Consistent Predictor of Pregnancy (PREG) and sperm fertilizing potential: Advanced Semen Analysis (ASA) and Hyperactivation (HA) using Clear CASA for local or remote patients,” outlines how computer assisted sperm analysis can be used to predict the fertilizing potential of the man.

Download PDF of the Burkman Poster

Dr. George’s poster, Defining the fertile man with Clear CASA: Capacitation (CAP) and  Hyperactivation (HA), helped in determining the definition of a hyperactivated sperm using the kinematics measurements determined by CASA.

Download PDF of  the George Poster

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Synchronicity: The XYClone Laser Helps Researchers Study Cardiac Injury and Repair

In a study published July 17, 2013 in the International Journal of Cardiology on line, researchers found that “laser-targeted injury of the zebrafish embryonic heart is a novel and reproducible model of cardiac injury and repair suitable for pharmacological and molecular studies.”

The scientific team, led by Dr. Martin Denvir, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, UK, undertook this study to learn more about how the embryonic zebrafish heart responds to injury as compared to the adult zebrafish heart, which demonstrates a remarkable capacity for regeneration.

At the “heart” of this study was the XYClone infrared laser with RED-i target. The researchers produced targeted and highly localized injury to the embryonic heart by synchronizing the XYClone laser pulse with the cardiac cycle. By using custom software, they were able to apply the laser pulse only at a specific user-designated phase of the cardiac cycle, which allowed targeting of just the embryonic heart ventricle.

Zebrafish embryos 72 hpf (lower panel)were used for all experiments of laser injury. The laser pulse was delivered to the area of the ventricle indicated by the red dot (Panel A) and resulted in a clear burn-mark at the point of injury (Panel B), see also supplementary movie 1 (V – ventricle, BA – bulbus arteriosus, At – atrium). Position of the embryo is marked by compass lines (c-caudal, cr-cranial, d-dorsal, v-ventral)

Zebrafish embryos 72 hpf (lower panel)were used for all experiments of laser injury. The laser pulse was delivered to the area of the ventricle indicated by the red dot (Panel A) and resulted in a clear burn-mark at the point of injury (Panel B), see also supplementary movie 1 (V – ventricle, BA – bulbus arteriosus, At – atrium). Position of the embryo is marked by compass lines (c-caudal, cr-cranial, d-dorsal, v-ventral)

Cardiac arrest and cessation of tail blood flow demonstrated the immediate injurious effects of the laser. In addition, cell death and apoptosis resulted in loss of cardiomyocytes. A significant decrease in heart function was observed, yet, by 24 hours post-lasering, complete recovery occurred. The study results showed, for the first time, that a proliferation of new cardiomyocytes drove the functional recovery of the lasered embryo heart ventricle. It also appeared that the laser injury itself stimulated the proliferative process.

In the discussion, the authors note many advantages to using the laser model, including the rate at which the individual zebrafish embryos may be processed, the reproducibility, the ease of testing pharmacological and genetic interventions, and the ability to create regional damage similar to that which occurs from ligation of the coronary artery in mammals.

[Video not found]

MOVIE 1: Laser pulse injury (without synchronisation) of the zebrafish embryonic heart ventricle at 72 h post-fertilization– A single laser pulse, using the XYClone Laser Ablator, to the ventricle of a zebrafish embryo (72 hpf) results in instantaneous cardiac injury associated with marked bradycardia and gradual recovery of cardiac rhythm over the next few minutes. A laser burn-mark is clearly seen in the wall of the ventricle. This is an example where there is a clear view of non-overlapped cardiac chambers.

[Video not found]

MOVIE 2: Laser pulse injury using the synchronization software of the zebrafish embryonic heart ventricle at 72 h post-fertilization. In this example, atrium and ventricle are overlapped. Attempting to injure the ventricle with a non-synchronized laser system would result in damage to adjacent structures. Synchronizing the laser pulse with the cardiac cycle allows highly precise and targeted injury to the ventricle at end-diastole and consequently minimizes damage to surrounding structures.


OA Open Access Article

Reference: Matrone G, Taylor JM, Wilson KS, Baily J, Love GD, Girkin JM, Mullins JJ, Tucker CS, Denvir MA. Laser-targeted ablation of the zebrafish embryonic ventricle: A novel model of cardiac injury and repair. Int J Cardiol. 2013 Jul 17. doi:pii: S0167-5273(13)01117-0. 10.1016/j.ijcard.2013.06.063. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23871347

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Supreme Court Settles Question in Stem Cell Funding

For the past three years, a cloud has hung over the question of US government funding for stem cell research.  Earlier this week, the Supreme Court settled the issue when it denied certiorari in the case of Shirley v. Sebelius, thereby letting stand the appeals court decision striking down a lawsuit that challenged the government’s ability to fund embryonic stem cell research.

The various twists and turns of this case are best handled by legal scholars1, but for those of us supportive of stem cell research, this is welcome news.

With an administration supportive of funding stem cell research in office for four at least more years, researchers will now be able to move forward with all varieties of stem cell research, without the threat that funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be ended.

Though I can’t resist the irony that this case was brought by proponents of adult stem cell research, arguing that they would be harmed if embryonic stem cell researchers received funding.  So much for free scientific inquiry
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