Cell motion

Flow inside cells

While at the University of Oxford Dr Windsor developed software to measure the cytoplasmic flows inside cells. Based on the cross-correlation algorithms used in particle image velocimetry (PIV) he developed a suite of software tools to analyse time-lapse microscope images. These tools are currently being used to measure the cytoplasmic flows inside single cell zygotes in an effort to improve in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques.

Using these tools it was found that fertilisation of the mouse egg triggers a series of periodic movements within the egg that depend upon contractions of the egg cell's dynamic skeleton. The movements can be seen because they are transmitted to particles that lie just below the surface of the egg's membrane. The cytoplasmic movements of the egg can then be quantified using the cell_piv software. The characteristics of these movements in the mouse egg make it possible to predict whether an egg will successfully develop and give rise to a successful pregnancy. Similar movements have been seen in human eggs and the immediate aim is to discover if these movements also provide reliable clues to human egg health and viability.

Media coverage

BBC - Cardiff and Oxford research aims to improve IVF success rates

The Guardian - Pulsations reveal which embryos have the best chance of success in IVF


  • Prof Chris Graham, Dr Richard Bomprehy and Prof Adrian Thomas, University of Oxford
  • Dr Anna Ajduk and Prof Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, University of Cambridge
  • Prof Karl Swann, Cardiff University
Microscope image of cell showing motion vectors
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