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Boost Chances for IVF Success With New Technique for Embryo Selection

Health In Focus   - G J E 4
Highlights:
  • Embryo media culture may influence IVF cultures
  • Imaging system used to detect cancer cells now adapted for embryo selection
  • Embryo selection is based on DNA markers
A new technique by researchers Dr.Hannah Brown and colleagues from the University of Adelaide has been trialed recently, to select the best embryo for implantation in an IVF procedure. The technique was designed to improve the chances of pregnancy following an IVF procedure.
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The research team used a sophisticated imaging system that is used to identify the presence of cancer cells and determined the texture differences in embryos that were grown using IVF.

‘Better embryo selection increases chances of pregnancy in IVF.’
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IVF or In vitro Fertilization

An IVF or in vitro fertilization technique is performed for childless couples who are unable to conceive on their own.

Procedure of IVF - The treatment involves treating the woman with hormones so more number of eggs mature in a particular cycle. The eggs are then collected and placed in a culture dish into which sperms from the male are added. The sperms for the procedure are selected based on their motility and morphology.

The embryos are allowed to grow and out of the many embryos that grow, a few are selected to be implanted into the woman. It is hoped that out of the 4 embryos that are implanted into the woman, at least one will get implanted and grow into a fetus.

Current Criteria for Selecting Embryos

The following are some of the guidelines that are followed while selecting an embryo
  • Embryos with good number of cell divisions.
  • The cells of the embryo appear to be uniform in size
  • Absence of fragments in the embryo
These observations are made by viewing the embryos under the microscope.

Finding the Most Effective Technique for Embryo Selection

The technique that can identify 'good' embryos is based on
  • The level of the embryo's metabolism.
  • The biomarkers that are expressed in DNA damage during development of the embryo.
Embryo selection - The process of selecting the embryos is crucial as it would mean better chances of a pregnancy. Currently, the available selection criteria are based on the observations of the embryologist and as Dr Hanna Brown, who is the lead author, adds "That's a very difficult decision to make based on the little evidence available".

Highlights of this new technique
  • The technique that is used is non-invasive since it is an imaging technique, which makes it harmless for developing embryos.
  • Embryos that looked identical under a microscope, showed variations in this imaging technique.
The current study was performed on mouse embryos but they show a lot of promise and there could be clinical trials on human embryos to identify the embryo that would be best suited for implantation.

Dr.Brown says "We have been successful on two fronts: in determining important differences between what would appear on the surface to be almost identical embryos, and in selecting those embryos that have had the best chance of a successful pregnancy.

IVF is a relatively simple procedure but there are many couples who fail to get pregnant even after many cycles of the procedure and a considerable percentage of these are due to the inability of the embryos to get implanted in the endometrium. Embryos that may seem perfectly normal under a microscope may be unfit for growth as evidenced in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

Since PGD may not be preferred by most couples and since the current study was only an imaging technique, the new technique could soon become a popularly used option.

Most childless couple undergo severe mental anxiety as they wait for the results of the IVF procedure and look forward to pregnancy, however a disappointment in the form of failed implantation can lead to a lot of emotional stress. An imaging technique that separates the good embryo from the rest will increase the chances of pregnancy and reduce the trauma of patient who wish to avail an IVF.

As Dr Brown says "Our ultimate aim is to make the process of IVF more successful for couples, and to help produce the healthiest pregnancy possible for the benefit of the whole family."

References:
  1. In vitro fertilization (IVF) - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/in-vitro-fertilization/home/ovc-20206838)
  2. Coffee drinking habits can be written in our DNA, study finds - (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/uoe-cdh082316.php)


Source: Medindia
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