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Embryo genetic test could improve IVF success

1 November 2010
Appeared in BioNews 582

An embryo screening test could significantly increase IVF success rates, US researchers have found. The test allows doctors to quickly select the most likely embryos for successful implantation into the womb, helping reduce the risks of genetic birth defects, miscarriage and failed pregnancy.

Researchers compared screened with non-screened embryos and found 87 percent of patients who underwent screening had a healthy baby. This fell to 68 percent for patients whose embryos were transferred without the test. 'In this particular test we can get an answer in four hours, we do not have to cryopreserve (freeze) the embryos and we can implant them the next day', explained study leader Dr Richard Scott, a specialist in 24-chromosome aneuploidy screening.

During the test, a biopsy is taken from a five-day old embryo to examine whether it has two copies of all 23 chromosomes. Almost half the embryos resulting from IVF are aneuploid, meaning they have too many or too few chromosomes. Implantation of such embryos could lead to the development of various genetic conditions or spontaneous abortion. Only those with the exact set of 46 chromosomes are selected for use in IVF after the test.

Presenting his research at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), Dr Scott also explained how the improved success rate also meant only one embryo needed to be transferred at a time, reducing the risk to mother and baby from a multiple pregnancy. 

Currently genetic screening is available in the UK to test for inherited diseases including cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy, but some fertility doctors believe such tests should be routinely offered. The study involved 80 patients of an average age of 34 and the researchers now propose to continue with a three-month trial involving up to 500 patients.

It is thought the screening test will cost an additional £1,000 to £2,000 in addition to standard IVF costs. Tony Rutherford, chair of the British Fertility Society, expects the test will take two to three years to develop.

Embryo selection key to IVF success, study finds
The Australian |  28 October 2010
Genetic test of embryos could double IVF success rates, say scientists
The Times |  27 October 2010
Hope for older women as test improves IVF success
Telegraph |  27 October 2010
Screening 'could boost IVF success'
Press Association |  27 October 2010
11 July 2011 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Some of the highlights from the 27th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction (ESHRE) in Stockholm include good news for sperm donation in the UK; advice about how to reduce the effects of tobacco on unborn children; a 'non invasive' screening technique for chromosomal abnormalities in embryos; and a mathematical model to help reduce multiple births in IVF procedures...
14 February 2011 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy 
New research suggests that women from ethnic minority backgrounds may have lower success rates with fertility treatment....
10 January 2011 - by Dr Gabrielle Samuel 
Researchers have developed a calculator that they claim can be used to provide people who are having fertility problems with an assessment of the likelihood of having a successful outcome following IVF...
15 November 2010 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
UK-based researchers have developed a new screening technique which could double or triple IVF success rates. The new test allows for any chromosomal abnormalities to be detected in embryos before they are implanted into the mother....
25 October 2010 - by Dr Gabrielle Samuel 
The first formal clinical study of a test that screens an eggs for chromosomal abnormalities - the main cause of non-viable embryos during IVF - has been conducted. This may help pave the way for women with a history of IVF failure to achieve successful pregnancies...
16 August 2010 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
Newborn babies showing signs of liver disorders will be screened for 92 genetic conditions, as part of a trial launching next month at Birmingham Children's Hospital. Newborns will be screened for multiple conditions with a single test using gene chip technology....
9 August 2010 - by Chris Chatterton and Louise Mallon 
A large prospective study has discovered new genetic variants associated with an increased risk of breast cancer....
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