Life

New IVF Technique Boosts Pregnancy Success By ‘Mimicking Womb Conditions'

Scientists have created a new way of processing embryos during IVF treatment by ‘mimicking’ the warm temperatures found within the womb.

Researchers from Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, discovered their new temperature-controlled technique successfully boosted the woman’s odds of pregnancy by more than a quarter.

Since the technique was installed in 2007, 850 babies have been born as a result.

The multi-step process involves embryos being harvested in a controlled and enclosed environment, stored in warm incubators, similar to the temperature inside a woman.

The embryos are not removed from their incubators until they were ready to be implanted into the womb.

In order to do this without exposing them to temperature or air changes, which can hinder the chances of successful fertilisation, scientists created a ‘lab in a box’.

This meant that they were able to check the progress of the eggs without removing them from their incubators. They also designed a chain of interlinked incubators with in-built microscopes.

Researchers believe this method increases the chance of successful pregnancies as it keeps the embryo eggs in conditions as close to a woman’s womb as possible, meaning they flourished naturally, rather than being lab-produced.

Current practices remove the embryos from their incubators when monitoring their progress. By doing this, scientists believe that the delicate embryos could get damaged by unsteady temperature and air changes.

IVF success rates in women under 35 are around 29% and 5% in women aged 43 to 44. IVF can be costly if the woman experiences a series of failed attempts, as multiple rounds can cost between £3,000 and £15,000.

Professor Mary Herbert, who led the study, said in a statement: "Our aim was to keep eggs and embryos in conditions similar to those they would experience naturally - inside a woman's body.

"This led our team to design and develop a system in which it is possible to perform all of the technical procedures while maintaining stable conditions throughout the IVF process."

Adding to this, professor Alison Murdoch, head of clinical service at the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, said: “"Growing good embryos is the key to IVF success and everyone, even those who have a very small prospect of success, deserve to have the best possible chance.

Rachel Cutting, chairman of the Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE), told The Huffington Post: "The research proves that the environment which eggs and embryos are cultured in can affect the chances of success of fertility treatment.

“Providing a stable environment especially when it comes to keeping the embryos constantly at body temperature is vital for the embryo's health as it develops in the lab. This stability gives the embryos a better chance of being able to implant in the uterus and lead to a pregnancy.

“The new system used in Newcastle is a closed one where the embryos are kept in a constant environment. And whilst other clinics might not use the same system, they do all have strict protocols to keep embryos in the best possible environment, which in turn gives all our patients the best possible chance of a pregnancy."

Fertility expert Emma Cannon, believes this research is encouraging, especially for women who have experienced failed rounds of IVF.

“Embryos are very sensitive to their environment so this study is really interesting. It may bring hope to women whose embryo's have previously not made it to the transfer stage,” Cannon told The Huffington Post.

The research was published in the PLoS ONE journal.

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