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Drug significantly boosts IVF rates, clinical trial finds

15 October 2018
Appeared in BioNews 971

A new drug has been shown to help boost birth rates following IVF treatment, by helping embryos implant in the womb.

The phase three trial results for the drug Nolasiban were released at the annual meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in Denver, Colorado. The study was funded by ObsEva, the Swiss biopharmaceutical company that is developing Nolasiban. 

'Nowadays there's a lot of investment in trying to increase the live birth rate by expensive genetic testing, but this is a simpler and less expensive approach,' Dr Herman Tournaye, principal investigator on the trial, told MD Magazine

The recent trial involved 778 women at 41 European fertility clinics. The participants were given a Nolasiban pill or a placebo four hours before embryo implantation into the womb. Nolasiban boosted the live birth rate to 45 percent, compared with 33 percent for the placebo group. There were no side effects reported.

The drug works by blocking oxytocin receptors. By blocking the hormone, the drug is intended to increase blood flow to the uterus and decrease uterine contractions during embryo transfer, said Dr Ernest Loumaye, the entrepreneur who founded ObsEva. 

The initial results are promising but more trials are needed 'before we can start getting too excited', Dr Peter Illingworth of IVF Australia told the New Scientist. 'I'd also advise caution until the full experimental details of the latest trial are released,' he added. 

Nolasiban has not yet been approved, but ObsEva is working with the US Food and Drug Administration and European authorities to continue testing. A further trial of Nolasiban with 1000 IVF participants is planned to launch later this year. 

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