What’s the big deal about BEA testing?

Ask anyone working in an IVF laboratory, and they will tell you that working with quality, consistent materials is right at the top of their priority list. No-one wants to spend their time double-checking the quality of their media.

To ensure the quality and safety of most commercially available culture media, embryo assays are conducted. These tests are designed to confirm the absence of toxic or sub-optimal compounds via successful embryo development.

The majority of commercial media are only tested via the traditional Mouse Embryo Assays (MEA) with zygotes or 2-cell mouse embryos. However at IVF Bioscience we also test our media via Bovine Embryo Assays (BEA) with immature bovine oocytes. The BEA test is far more specific and comprehensive than the MEA equivalent, which allows us to offer a much more thorough and relevant assessment of media performance.

Scientific Measurement



There is considerable variation in the developmental pattern, timings and cell numbers in the early embryos of different species.

Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the mouse may display a pattern of preimplantation development that is unique1.

The results of BEA tests therefore provide a more meaningful assessment of media performance than the equivalent with mouse oocytes.



MEA tests use zygotes or 2-cell embryos to test all media. They are therefore unable to specifically test a medium’s intended functionality, i.e. they can only confirm that the medium does not impair embryo development.

With BEA tests, 700+ oocytes from bovine slaughterhouse ovaries are used to test every new batch of media. The maturation (IVM), fertilisation (IVF) and culture (IVC) steps are each assessed individually, giving a thorough overview of the performance of the media at each stage of development

Pipette IVM 4WP

Bottom Line

The results of a Bovine Embryo Assay provide a far more reliable indication of how the media tested will really perform in a bovine in vitro embryo production system, when compared to the industry standard Mouse Embryo Assay.

Check out our Quality Assurance page for more information on our manufacturing standards, and the tests, checks and screens conducted on IVF Bioscience media.

1. Watson A.J., Hogan A., Hahnel A., Schultz G.A. (1993) Activation of the Embryonic Genome: Comparisons Between Mouse and Bovine Development. In: Bavister B.D. (eds) Preimplantation Embryo Development. Serono Symposia, USA Norwell, Massachusetts. Springer, New York, NY (https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-9317-7_9)