Page URL:

IVF chances boosted by 10 percent using new procedure

5 March 2012
Appeared in BioNews 647

Protecting embryos from a laboratory environment during IVF treatment could increase successful pregnancy rates from 35 percent to 45 percent. A novel system, trialled in a recent study, consists of a chain of fully enclosed, interlinked incubators, provides a tightly controlled and protected environment.

'Our aim was to keep eggs and embryos in conditions similar to those they would experience naturally - inside a woman's body. This led our team to design and develop a system in which it is possible to perform all of the technical procedures while maintaining stable conditions throughout theIVF process', said Professor Mary Herbert, who led the research team at Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, part of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The system that is currently used in most IVF labs requires embryos to be removed from their incubators to check their development. During the short time they are out of their protective environment, temperature fluctuations and slight disturbances in the acidity, or pH balance, could influence the embryo's development.

The team used mouse embryos to test whether the new system resulted in a more controlled environment for embryos. They found that both temperature and pH levels were significantly more stable in the new system compared to the conventional system. When using human embryos they found that blastocysts, an early stage of an embryo, developed faster and contained more cells than embryos grown in the conventional system.

Finally, the team measured how many women became clinically pregnant (a fetal heartbeat at seven weeks) when the fertility clinic used either the conventional IVF system or the new, fully enclosed system. While rates were between 32 and 35 percent with conventional systems, 45 percent of women became clinically pregnant with the new system. The women, who were 37 years or younger, had had ten egg follicles harvested and were all undergoing their first treatment cycle.

Although the increase in successful pregnancies looks promising, the researchers warn that causes other than the new system could have improved success rates. For instance, the team could have become gradually better at performing the IVF process over time. However, the study, published in PLoS ONE, tried to take this into account and still concluded that the improved pregnancy outcomes were due to the beneficial effects of the new system.

Alison Murdoch, Professor of Reproductive Medicine who leads the clinical service at Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life said: 'Since installing this new technology over 850 babies have now been born. Growing good embryos is the key to IVF success and everyone, even those who have a very small prospect of success, deserve to have the best possible chance'.

2 July 2012 - by Dr Sarah Spain 
For the first time, researchers in the USA have calculated cumulative success rates of infertility treatments that use IVF or assisted reproductive technologies (ART), and have showed that overall success rates come close to that of natural conception....
30 April 2012 - by Dr Greg Ball 
A fertility clinic helped to conceive the first baby born in the UK following the use of a device which allows doctors to record images of a developing embryo in the days following fertilisation, prior to implantation...
16 April 2012 - by Rosemary Paxman 
The first human egg cells grown in the laboratory from stem cells could be fertilised later this year, scientists report...
24 October 2011 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
Women who have conceived through IVF may be more likely to develop pre-eclampsia during pregnancy than pregnant women who have not, according to a recent study in the US...
10 October 2011 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
US researchers have developed a way to analyse the viability of human eggs at a genetic level without causing them harm. This technology will help improve the chances of successful IVF for couples with fertility problems...
10 October 2011 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy 
Being just slightly overweight can affect the chance of having a baby through IVF, according to a study at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust....
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.