A new way of processing embryos during IVF treatment can improve the chances of pregnancy by more than a quarter, The Daily Telegraph today reported.
The story is based on research evaluating a new system for incubating newly fertilized embryos during IVF treatment. The new system is designed to protect the growing bundles of cells from environmental stresses that might affect their development.
In conventional systems, the embryos had to be transferred between different devices to perform all the various stages of IVF treatment, but the new system allows a range of functions to be performed in a single sealed unit that regulates the temperature and quality of the air around them.
This research found that in the conventional system 30% of embryos successfully developed to the ‘blastocyst stage’, which is seen five or six days after fertilization, compared with 40% in the new system. The new system was also associated with an increase in clinical pregnancy rates during the period that it was introduced.
The findings are interesting, but they do not add up to an IVF “ breakthrough”, as is suggested by The Daily Telegraph. The new method of incubating embryos sounds promising, but no randomised trial has yet been undertaken into its effectiveness. Further good research is needed to investigate whether it can improve pregnancy and live birth rates.
This method of culturing embryos in a laboratory for five to six days after fertilization before implantation in the womb is called blastocyst transfer. Transferring the fertilized embryo to the womb two to three days after fertilization is called embryo transfer.
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