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Fertility test that could double the success of IVF

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Monday, May 19, 2008 | 0 comments

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A fertility test that can double a woman's chances of pregnancy is being offered to childless couplesA fertility test that can double a woman's chances of pregnancy is being offered to childless couples for the first time.

The test identifies which eggs have the best chance of being successfully implanted in the womb - a major factor in determining the success of IVF treatment.

The test gives results in less than 48 hours, meaning the best eggs or embryos can be used immediately or frozen for future use.

Most existing tests take several days for their results to be processed.

Current tests also check for only a few abnormalities, whereas the latest technique - known as comparative genomic hybridisation - checks the egg has a full complement of normal chromosomes.

Specialists from the CARE Fertility Group of clinics said their pioneering technique could drastically improve the chances of pregnancy for women with long-standing fertility problems.

Results from a trial run with a team from the US found the number of embryos that implanted in the womb rose from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.

Dr Simon Fishel, managing director of the CARE Fertility Group, said the test used technology originally developed to detect cell abnormalities for cancer patients.

"We have been waiting for more than ten years for a technology which allows us to select the most viable embryos," he added.

"Until now it has not been possible to test eggs and embryos to evaluate all their chromosomes in an IVF cycle.

"We now have trial results showing CGH dramatically improves implantation rates because it allows us to choose eggs which are most likely to lead to a pregnancy.


"Since the trial started we have developed the test further and are ready to offer a novel array CGH to patients for the first time."

Doctors have been trying for some time to produce a test for pre-implantation genetic screening that is comprehensive and proven to improve conception rates.

Their efforts intensified after the British Fertility Society criticised earlier versions.

Last year CARE Fertility Group in Nottingham, in collaboration with the Sher Institutes for Reproductive Medicine in New York, tested DNA from a tiny part of the egg known as the polar body.

This contains all the chromosomes and can be safely removed without jeopardising its capacity to become an embryo.

Because the trial was using a prototype technique, the eggs were fertilised and frozen while the results were processed.

When the results came back, the best embryos were selected and implanted.

The results showed that 48 per cent of the selected embryos had successfully implanted - twice the expected rate.

Almost two-thirds of embryos transferred resulted in a delivery, leading to 26 out of 42 women having babies, including six sets of twins.

This rate was higher than the researchers had expected.

CARE's advanced version of the test is the first to be licensed by the IVF watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, for use in women over the age of 35 with a history of repeated IVF failures or recurrent miscarriage.

Dr Fishel hopes that eventually all women having IVF will be able to use the test to identify their eggs most likely to produce a baby.

This would mean they would not have to have two or three embryos implanted as an "insurance" policy.

He said: "This would help avoid the risk of multiple pregnancies because we could put back a single embryo with a high chance of success."

He admits the high cost of the technique - £2,900 for testing eight eggs - is likely to initially limit demand.

But he said that as more couples use the technique, which is available to private patients, the cost should come down.

IT'S LIKE WINNING THE LOTTERY

Childhood sweethearts Sam and Gareth Cornforth took part in the trial after years of fruitless IVF treatment.

Thanks to the test, the couple are today the proud parents of five-month-old twins George and Thomas.

Mr and Mrs Cornforth, who are both aged 35 and live near Derby, had been together since the age of 16 and had been trying for a child since they married in 2002.

Seemingly endless tests did not show why Mrs Cornforth could not become pregnant and IVF failed to work.

The couple saw a news item about CARE Fertility's trial and were among 1,700 who applied to take part in 2006.

"When we were chosen we felt this was our lotto ticket for a family of our own," said Mrs Cornforth, a travel agent.

It took eight weeks for the results of the test to be processed before the eggs could be used in treatment, six months after the trial began.

Six weeks later they found Mrs Cornforth was pregnant.

Mr Cornforth said: "On December 18 last year - my birthday - George and Thomas were born and it was the best present we could ever have."

Source:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/thehealthnews.html?in_article_id=565185&in_page_id=1797


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Catherine

About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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