Hailed ‘the most exciting development in fertility treatment in the last 30 years’ a new artificial reproductive technique could treble the chances of pregnancy for infertile couples.
The method helps doctors identify and implant the fastest-growing embryo – which is the most likely to develop into a healthy foetus.
A series of time-lapse photographs of the developing embryos will allow IVF specialists the ability to spot ‘superior’ embryos. When applied, the relatively simple technique could double or even tripe the number of health babies born.
Scientists believe the procedure could cut the miscarriage risk dramatically; sparing couples the emotional ordeal of trying multiple rounds of failed treatment to conceive.
“I believe it is the most exciting breakthrough we’ve had in probably 30 years,” Professor Simon Fishel, managing director of the breakthrough-achieving CARE Fertility Group, told reporters.
“Every IVF practice in the world is unintentionally and unwittingly putting back into the womb unviable embryos that don’t make babies,” Professor Fishel added.
“It’s a game changer for everybody to have such an uplift in live birth rates. This is the beginning of something revelatory,” he stressed.
The research findings, published by the Nottingham team in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, saw the development of a embryo ranking system. Low, medium or high rankings were given according to the chromosomal development of each embryo.
The journal’s editor, Professor Martin Johnson from Cambridge University, said while the findings were extremely encouraging, great caution is needed:
“There are caveats with this research….and for these reasons we have to be cautious,” Johnson said.
The new procedure does come at a cost of 750 pounds (roughly AUS$1200), a relatively cheaper additional when compared to the thousands of dollars couples are forced to pay for each treatment cycle.