New technique could significantly improve IVF success rate
Summary of story from The Guardian, August 9, 2011
Looking at the telltale signs of movement within fertilised eggs before they are implemented could significantly increase the success rate of IVF, scientists have revealed.
Doing this could also cut the frequency of multiple births often associated with IVF, which are known to increase health risks both for the babies and their mothers.
In a normal cycle of IVF treatment, fertilised embryos are implanted after around three days in culture.
Because of the uncertainties involved, several embryos are often implanted at once. This can lead to twins or triplets, which increases the potential health risks and risk of miscarriage.
Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz of the University of Cambridge led a team of researchers looking for ways to assess fertilised embryos more effectively, allowing fewer to be implanted.
Her experiments on mice showed that an egg’s jelly-like innards would start to pulsate soon after a sperm had entered it.
“The pattern of those movements is predictive of whether the embryo will have successful developments throughout the entire pregnancy,” she said.
“I believe this method has very important potential medical applications, as it provides a totally non-invasive and rapid way of making this prediction of which embryo will have successful and which will not have successful pregnancy.”
The findings were published in Nature Communications.