Scientists improve IVF fertility rate with new methods
Thursday, 15 March 2012 00:00  By Chukwuma Muanya  Features  –  Natural Health

SCIENTISTS have been able to improve the fertility outcomes in patients undergoing In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) with two new methods.

Scientists at University College Dublin have discovered a new way of measuring the potential success rate of an embryo before it is transferred back into the womb during IVF.

According to the findings published online in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the fluid within a woman’s ovaries that surrounds the egg or oocyte holds metabolic information that can improve predictions on which embryo is more likely to lead to pregnancy.

Also, a novel system for processing embryos during IVF treatment has been shown to significantly improve the chances of pregnancy – by more than a quarter.

Pioneered by a Newcastle team of fertility experts at the University and within the British National Health Scheme (NHS), the innovative design of interlinked incubators provides a totally enclosed and controlled environment within which every step of the IVF process can be performed.

Research published recently in the journal PLoS ONE reveals that the introduction of the new system into the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, part of the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, resulted in a 27 per cent increase in pregnancy rate compared with conventional equipment used in IVF treatment labs.

Traditionally, in IVF procedures embryos are cultured in incubators, which provide a controlled environment. However, it is necessary to check embryo development under the microscope.

This generally involves removing them from the controlled environment of the incubators, which may be harmful. The system developed by the Newcastle team overcomes this problem by enabling all procedures to be conducted within an enclosed and controlled environment.

Initially the new system was tested extensively to make sure that it maintained stable environmental conditions (for air quality and temperature). Subsequent studies on embryos donated to research showed a significant increase in the proportion of embryos developing normally over a period of six to seven days.

After introduction into the laboratories at Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, the teams were able to compare the treatment outcomes over a period of three years. The study, found that 45 per cent achieved a clinical pregnancy compared to 32 per cent and 35 per cent in each of the preceding two years. This represents a minimum increase of 27 per cent in the clinical pregnancy rate; a clinical pregnancy means that a heartbeat was seen on the scan at seven weeks gestation.

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