THE hopes of couples trying for babies through assisted conception treatment at Liverpool Women's Hospital are being given a new boost with the introduction of new equipment that could increase their chances of success. The Hewitt Centre for Reproductive Medicine, in partnership with North West Fertility, has become one of the first sites in the country to introduce an EmbryoScope Time Lapse System for culturing and observing patient embryos after IVF has taken place in the laboratory. Until now, monitoring the embryo's development has involved removing the plastic dishes in which they are growing from the incubator to examine them under a heated microscope. They must then be returned to the incubator as quickly as possible to keep the temperature and pH constant and to avoid any damage to the embryos. By contrast, the new computerised incubator offers continuous 'live' surveillance in a safe, undisturbed and controlled culture environment from which they do not have to be removed for examination. Dr Steve Troup, scientific director of the Hewitt Centre, said of the innovation, developed by Unisense FertiliTech: "Changes and developments are happening constantly as an embryo grows, but currently in order to protect the embryos, we view them only for a very limited period. Up to now, a wealth of information about early embryo development has remained untapped. With the EmbryoScope we have constant surveillance for as long as we like without moving them from their stable, controlled environment."