Researchers in the UK have found a new screening technique that could significantly increase the success rate of in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Researchers estimate that this new test could as much as triple IVF success rates.
The technique tests embryos for chromosomal abnormalities, which are the most common cause of early pregnancy loss, accounting for 70% of miscarriages. This new technique successfully tests embryos without damaging them, thus allowing doctors to ‘re-implant’ embryos that are most likely to develop healthily and successfully.
In IVF, the embryo becomes a blastocyst at day five—around a day before it would normally implant in the womb. This is when it is re-implanted in IVF. At this stage the embryo consists of two parts: a small ball of cells that will develop into a baby and an outer layer of cells that will become the placenta.
It is at this point that the new screening technique is carried out. Researchers conduct a biopsy of the placental cells, thus analysing chromosomes without even touching the cells that will become the baby.
The technique is undergoing trials at the CARE Fertility centre in Manchester. Three women in their late 30s used the technique, and are due to give birth at the end of December.
IVF success rates are currently tied entirely to a woman’s age. “With this new technique, we will see a paradigm shift in what we’re doing in IVF”, said CARE Director, Simon Fishel.