Latest News

Scientists create early stem cells to better understand human placenta

TrophoblastScientists investigating conditions such as miscarriage, preeclampsia and other complications that can occur during pregnancy will now be able to create early stems cells for study in the lab, which will further help their understanding of placental development.

Studying the role of the placenta during pregnancy has long been a challenge as obtaining vital tissue samples before birth was practically impossible. Now, scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, using findings from earlier Japanese studies, have found a way to guide human cells into becoming trophoblast stems cells, the precursor cells that give rise to the placenta. This technique will allow researchers to understand the very early stages of how the placenta develops and should give important insights into complications that occur during pregnancy.

The team in St Louis has been able to transform induced pluripotent stems (iPS) cells into trophoblast stem cells. Trophoblast cells develop into two specific cells types: one which allows the placental cells to implant into the uterine lining and the other which produces the hormones essential to maintaining the pregnancy.

Although there are already well established protocols, stretching back a decade, for turning an adult cell into an iPS cell, until now, scientists have not been able to create trophoblast stem cells in the lab. Unlike these precursor cells, iPS cells are in a state that exists after the embryo attaches to the uterus’ lining. As the development of the placenta begins before this stage, and these iPS cells have already lost their capacity to create placental cells, it has been important to find an accessible source of these trophoblast stem cells.

This breakthrough, which allows the creation of early stem cells, will help scientists further their understanding of the development of the human placenta and the origins of miscarriage, preeclampsia and other complications that occur during pregnancy.

For further information
Scientists generate early stem cells that form the human placenta
Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis

Integrated analysis of single-cell embryo data yields a unified transcriptome signature for the human pre-implantation epiblast
The Company of Biologists. Development - For advances in developmental biology and stem cells

ESHRE virtual – the 36th Annual Meeting

ESHRE2020 - Planer's virtual booth

This year, ESHRE will be a very different experience. Due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting is going online and the 36th Annual Meeting will be completely virtual. As you can imagine, we at Planer, will greatly miss this annual opportunity to see everyone in person and to catch up with our customers, distributors and friends from around the world.

However, we are proud to support ESHRE’s virtual conference and have taken a booth in the exhibition area. As always, the ESHRE programme will be packed with presentations from leading experts in the reproductive field, speaking on a broad range of topics.

If you are planning to attend the conference, please don’t forget to visit our Planer stand to see our latest product range. The virtual exhibition goes live at 9.00am on Sunday 5th July. 

Alternatively, if you are not registered to attend ESHRE, please click here to go straight to our special Planer ESHRE mini website.

Find out more:-
ESHRE programme
Watch “ESHRE 2020 - the leading event in reproductive science and medicine goes virtual”



Cellbox transport incubator launch

Cellbox transport incubator

Planer is pleased to announce that we are now the worldwide* distributor of the Cellbox live cell transport incubator to the reproductive medicine market. Cellbox is a robust incubator designed for the safe transport of oocytes, live cell culture, tissues and other cell-based samples by either ground or air transportation.

This self-sustaining incubator provides a controlled environment for the cells by maintaining temperature and, uniquely for a transport incubator, by regulating the CO2 levels during transportation, therefore ensuring that the cells arrive at their destination in the optimum condition. IATA compliant, the Cellbox transport incubator comes with an App that can provide a complete data logging history of the cells during their journey. There are two versions available – the Cellbox CD which uses CO2 cartridges and is suitable for land transport and the Cellbox CDI, which uses dry ice and is suitable for air transport.

“We are delighted that, in partnership with Cellbox Solutions GmbH, we can now market this exciting and unique product, through our well established global network of distributors, to ART customers” said Adrian Fuller, MD of Planer Ltd. “The Cellbox incubator will, without doubt, be a valuable addition to our range of existing high quality laboratory incubators, which includes the CT37stax and the BT37 benchtop incubators.”

If you would like to find out more about the Cellbox transport incubator or our benchtop incubators, please get in touch with the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For further information
Cellbox transport incubator
Download the Cellbox transport incubator specification sheet
CT37stax multi chamber benchtop incubator
BT37 benchtop incubator

*excluding USA and Japan

“Virtual embryo” gives scientists insights into how many different cells types originate from a single-celled fertilised egg

“How many different cell types are generated from a single egg cell?” is one of the most fundamental questions posed by biologists. Now researchers from EMBL Heidelberg and the University of Padua School of Medicine have published in the journal Cell, the first complete description of early embryo development, looking at every cell in the first seven cell divisions of an embryo. This breakthrough research was achieved by constructing a “virtual embryo” of the Phallusia mammillata – a type of marine organism known as a sea squirt, which is found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Studying cellular diversification has always been challenging to scientists. Studies, to date, have focused on either researching a limited number of gene markers or by selecting a few cell lineages. This has meant that scientists have not have a good understanding of the gene expression programmes that command individual cells to acquire the cell fates necessary to develop an embryo. Despite recent progress in the field, a comprehensive representation of embryonic development, accounting for every single cell in space and time had not, until now, been achieved.

The construction a ‘virtual embryo’ of Phallusia mammillata, by the EMBL researchers has helped solve this problem. Phallusia mammillata has the advantage of being related to vertebrates and that each specimen has the same number of cells, making it easier for researchers to combine observations.

Digital embyro

The EMBL ‘virtual embryo” described the gene expression and morphology of every cell of an embryo for its first seven cell divisions – from the single cell to the 64-cell stage. This is significant, because, by this point, the fates of the nerve cord, brain, germ cells, blood cell precursors and muscles have all been defined. Descriptions of the gene expression and spatial position of every cell are now possible. This portrayal was achieved through the use of high-resolution single-cell transcriptomics and light-sheet imaging. Click here for 4D digital visualisation of single cell expression patterns ( (The 4D visualisation of single-cell expression patterns above. Credit: Hanna Sladitschek/EMBL).

This important breakthrough in developmental genomics will give scientists the ability to track genome-wide changes of gene expression of every cell at each cell division in an embryo. Whilst this research was based on an organism with a small number of cells, the next step would be to extend the work to organisms with a greater number of cells, such as mammals.

For further information:-
Virtual Embryo Allows Single-cell Studies in Unprecedented Detail
Technology Networks

MorphoSeq: Full Single-Cell Transcriptome Dynamics Up to Gastrulation in a Chordate
Authors Hanna L. Sladitschek, Ulla-Maj Fiuza, Dinko Pavlinic, Vladimir Benes,
Lars Hufnagel, Pierre A. Neveu

Gene expression atlas of the Phallusia mammillata early embryo
Digital Embryo

Biobanking’s key role in fighting COVID-19

BiobankingBiobanking has emerged as—and will continue to be—a key tool in the arsenal of public health agencies and healthcare providers scrambling to fight COVID-19, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Biopreservation and Biobanking asserted.

“As the number of cases continues to mount, as well as the unfortunate loss of life, biobanks will continue to work in the background to handle their roles in the response,” Jim Vaught, PhD, concluded in a commentary published by the journal online Thursday.

Vaught is a former chief of the Biobanking and Biospecimen Research Branch in the Cancer Diagnosis Program of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute. He serves on multiple advisory boards and consultant to a variety of international commercial and academic biobanks, and is a guest professor at Central South University in Changsha, China.

In his commentary, Vaught noted that issues related to patient sample collection, processing, and analyses have long been important factors in handling the response to emerging infectious diseases. In the case of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidelines for handling COVID-19 samples that have served as a model for other biobanks, including that of the University of California, San Francisco. The guidelines mandate the use of Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) rules for laboratories, including the use of protective equipment, use of Class II Biological Safety Cabinets, and proper disinfection routines.

Last month, the NIH created its COVID-19 Scientific Interest Group, where interested parties can join in an online discussion and exchange information about research and resources. “At this time, we can expect that this pandemic will continue to be our most critical international concern for months to come, from a public health perspective, as well as from the resulting economic impact. As the number of cases continues to mount, as well as the unfortunate loss of life, biobanks will continue to work in the background to handle their roles in the response,” Vaught observed.

He also recalled the important role biobanking played in past epidemics, including the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak in Africa, and the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic, where tissue samples were used to determine that the origin of the virus was related to strains that commonly infected pigs and humans, and not of avian origin as had been previously thought.

Following the Ebola outbreak, Vaught noted, the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET) began organizing conferences focused on biobanking, and began working with international collaborators, articulating its goal of “providing strategic recommendations and establishing infrastructure and research capacity to respond to highly infectious emerging pathogens.”

The commentary, “Biobanking During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” is available on the journal’s website free until 30th June 2020.

Biopreservation and Biobanking is a bimonthly journal designed to provide comprehensive peer-reviewed coverage of biospecimen procurement, processing, preservation and banking, including ethical, legal, and societal considerations. The journal is a publication of GEN publisher Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., which has made articles related to COVID-19 and previous outbreaks such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) freely available.

For further information
NIH COVID-19 Scientific Interest Group
Biopreservation and Biobanking Journal

Covid-19: Statements on pregnancy and conception

In response to the global Coronavirus pandemic, a number of Societies involved in reproductive medicine, have issued statements on patient management and their clinical recommendations. Here, we focus on the latest COVID-19 updates from ASRM, ESHRE and BFS to provide an overview of current thinking. These organisations urge practitioners to stay up-to-date and to comply with their national public health recommendations with a particular duty to avoid any additional stress to healthcare systems, which in many places are already severely overloaded.

American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)
Patient Management and Clinical Recommendations During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

17th March 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASRM recommendations’ include:-

  • Suspend initiation of new treatment cycles
  • Strongly consider cancellation of all embryo transfers, whether fresh or frozen
  • Continue to care for patients who are currently “in-cycle” or who require urgent stimulation and cryopreservation
  • Suspend elective surgeries

Download ASRM’s recommendations in full 

European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)
Conronavirus COVID-19: ESHRE statement on pregnancy and conception
19th March 2020

Due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, ESHRE recommends that all fertility patients considering or planning treatment, even if they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for Covid-19 infection, should avoid becoming pregnant. For those patients already having treatment, ESHRE suggests considering deferred pregnancy with oocyte or embryo freezing for later embryo transfer.
Read more

British Fertility Society (BFS)
The BFS issued their original guidance on 18th March, which should now be read alongside the open letter they issued on 23rd March.

An open letter to members of the British Fertility Society and the Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists and Persons Responsible for UK Licenced Fertility Services.
23rd March 2020

This letter outlines the rapidly changing situation and reaffirms their position on fertility treatments for the foreseeable future:-
“Given the daily escalation of restrictions on public movement and the increasing pressure on NHS facilities particularly in London and North West England, coupled with predictions that the crisis will continue to intensify for at least the next twelve weeks, the BFS and ARCS stand by their recommendations that centres in the UK work to cease treatments. We are however committed to review our guidance as the situation progresses, with reference to national advice and new evidence as it emerges and hope to work with colleagues over coming weeks and months to consider how and when best to resume normal activities.”
Read letter in full.

Guidance for the care of fertility patients during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic
18th March
NB since issuing this guidance, the BFS have published the open letter (see above), which should be read alongside this original guidance published on 18th March

  • Whilst pregnant women can be generally reassured they are asked to consider themselves a vulnerable group
  • It is expected that UK licenced fertility centres will now be working to suspend treatments
  • UK fertility centres must establish the requirements to maintain a minimum service – this may include non-elective fertility preservation
  • Centres are expected to keep communication open with patients for advice and reassurance
  • Centres are expected to minimise their impact on NHS resources.

Read guidance in full.


Free Webinar Series: Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory

Free webinar - setting up the ideal IVF laboratoryAs many people are currently working from home, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Marc van den Bergh has kindly offered to re-run his webinar series "Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory" for free.

The webinars take place on Wednesdays at 1-2pm BST (2-3 pm CET) and are repeated twice on Sundays: at 1-2pm BST and then again at 7-8pm BST from 25th March onwards. The course will cover a range of themes including the IVF lab environment, the best equipment and key performance indicators for the IVF Lab.

Attendees will receive certificates, which they can submit to try and obtain CPD credits from their professional body.

How to register
Just click the links below and complete the form to reserve your place.

#24938 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory  
Part 1: The environment

#24939 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory
Part 2: The best equipment
#24940 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory 
Part 3: The culture MEDIUM
#24941 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory 
Part 4: The culture conditions

#24942 Setting up the Ideal IVF laboratory
Part 5: Hygiene Sterility Disinfection

#24943 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory 
Part 6: Key Performance Indicators for the IVF Lab

About Marc van den Bergh

Marc van den Bergh, is a certified senior clinical embryologist with over 20 years of experience. He founded the firm Quartec, which provides a range of consultancy services to assisted reproductive technology laboratories.
For further information, visit the Quartec website.

2020 conference update - ESHRE cancelled

ESHRE logoWe hope everybody around the world is staying as safe as possible and our sympathies to those that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

We are very sorry to hear that many of the meetings that we, at Planer, had planned to attend have now been postponed or cancelled. However we hope, that once the pandemic has been brought under control, to see our customers, colleagues and friends again soon at one of the rearranged events or in Paris, next year, at ESHRE 2021.

ESHRE 2020 cancelled
ESHRE 2020 has been completely cancelled, with their next annual meeting planned for Sunday 27th June to Wednesday 30th June in Paris.

'It's an extremely disappointing decision to take,' said ESHRE Chair Cristina Magli, 'but we are all aware of the devastating effects of COVID-19. Prevention and protection must be our priorities. We did consider postponement, but this is an annual event attended by more than 10,000 people from all over the world. Postponement and re-arrangement were impossible.”

ESHRE is now looking at developing a virtual platform, to make all presentations available online. Therefore, if you were planning to submit an abstract, the review process will continue as usual.

For further information, visit the ESHRE website.

Aspire 2020
The April 2020 Aspire meeting in Manila has been postponed until August 2020. The Congress will now be held from Tuesday 4th August to Friday 7th August.
For further details, please visit the Aspire website.

ALPHA 2020
The biennial conference has been rescheduled to take place 29th October to 1st November in Seville. For more information, please visit the ALPHA website.

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