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A new test that can increase IVF success rate

world Updated: Nov 08, 2010 17:15 IST

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British scientists have developed a new screening technique to test embryos which they claim could dramatically increase the chances of having a baby through IVF.

The test, developed by researchers at CARE Fertility in Manchester, can detect any chromosomal abnormalities - the biggest cause of early pregnancy loss - in embryos before they are reimplanted.

IVF, or in-vitro fertilisation, is a major treatment in infertility by which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the body, in vitro.

According to the researchers, the trials of their new pioneering technique, through which three British women in their late 30s are due to give birth in late December, showed that it would double or triple current IVF success rates, the BBC News reported.

Chromosomal abnormalities are the biggest cause of early pregnancy loss and responsible for 70% of pregnancies not carrying on to term.

Now, this new technique allows the viability of embryos to be tested without damaging them, CARE director Simon Fishel said and hoped that it would significantly improve the current methods.

Fishel said, "Before we would look down a microscope and see five, six, maybe 10 embryos knowing that half are chromosomally abnormal but there's no way of testing it.

"We now we have an objective test that is related to the health of the pregnancy."

In IVF, the embryo reaches a stage called the blastocyst in five to seven days when it's implanted in the womb back.

"At this stage, the embryo has two parts," said Fishel. "A tiny ball of cells which will become the baby and an outer layer of cells that becomes the placenta.

"At this stage we can do a tiny biopsy of those placental cells. So we don't even touch the cells that are going to become the baby itself.

"We can then can analyse all the chromosomes that would tell us about the cells that make the baby at the latest time before it goes back into the womb.

"This information seems to make a massive difference up to a doubling or tripling of pregnancy rates. And more importantly the implantation rates.

"In other words, each embryo is much more efficient at implanting and maintaining that pregnancy," Fishel said.

Currently IVF success rates are related entirely to the woman's age. But the new method will make it a stupendous difference, he added.

"We will see a paradigm shift in what we're doing in IVF I believe in the coming years, due to work that's now maturing in the next 6 to 12 months."