February 5, 2014
Early Success Reported Using Novel Less Expensive IVF Procedure
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Sixteen healthy infants have already been born using a novel simplified laboratory method for human in-vitro fertilization (IVF), according to the outcome results of a pilot clinical trial published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online.
Fertilization and implementation rates using the simplified method of culturing embryos were similar to conventional IVF programs, the study authors reported in a statement Tuesday. The results of their investigation suggest that IVF could be offered at a more reasonable cost and made available to more people worldwide using the new method.
However, the American and Belgian researchers responsible for the research also caution that other additional studies will be needed in order to determine how much less expensive the procedure will be, as well as the potential for various different groups of patients to use the simplified approach to sire their offspring.
“This system reproducibly generates de novo the atmospheric and culture conditions that support normal fertilization and preimplantation embryogenesis to the hatched blastocyst stage without the need for specialized medical-grade gases or equipment,” the study authors wrote.
“Development from insemination to the hatched blastocyst stage occurs undisturbed in a completely closed system that enables timed performance assessments for embryo selection in situ that, in this study, involved single-embryo transfers on day 3,” they added. “With the simplified culture system, 8/23 embryos implanted, one miscarried at 8weeks of gestation and seven healthy babies have been born.”
To date, over five million babies have been born worldwide using IVF procedures, the researchers said. However, due to the high costs of traditional procedures, it is believed to be available and/or affordable for less than one-tenth of the global population, primarily in wealthier nations. In order to change that, assisted reproductive technologies will need to be focused on making the procedures more available, less expensive and more effective.
In the study, lead author Jonathan Van Blerkom, a professor in the department of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of Colorado, and his colleagues report the first round of results from a prospective study in which an easier-to-use and less expensive IVF culture system was used in place of more expensive traditional incubator systems.
While the new technique does not change the need for surgical egg retrieval and embryo transfer, laboratory staffing or egg/embryo freezing, their findings suggest that the lab-related costs could be reduced to an as-yet-unknown extent. The results were said to compare favorably with typical IVF programs used in wealthier nations.
According to Elsevier, publishers of Reproductive BioMedicine Online, the new technique “has the potential to open up a new era in the history of IVF and may not only change the accessibility of IVF in resource-poor countries, but also have implications for accessibility in developed countries too [because of the reduced costs]."