Scientists claim to have achieved a breakthrough in infertility treatment by developing a new IVF technique which helps select the healthiest embryos by determining the amount of their glucose intake.
Prof David Gardner, who led a team at the University of Melbourne, said that the study related specifically to the glucose intake of embryos from the solution in which they grow in the laboratory.
In Vitro Fertilisation or IVF units use this solution to provide a bed of nutrients for embryos fertilised in the laboratory from eggs and sperm of couples who cannot naturally conceive. The glucose in embryo solution closely matches that which occurs naturally in the uterus.
Gardner said fertility specialists knew the precise amount of glucose in the solution before inserting an embryo.
"By measuring the level of glucose on day four or five after fertilisation, we can determine how much has been consumed by a growing embryo. There is clear cut evidence that the greater the glucose intake the healthier the embryo.
"On average, IVF units generate between eight and ten embryos per cycle, of which about half will progress through cell division to what is known as the blastocyst stage after four to five days.
"By measuring the glucose consumption of an embryo, we can better determine which is the healthiest embryo for transfer back to the patient," he said.