For many years, people have encountered issues with falling pregnant.
In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment has provided an option for infertile women and couples wishing to conceive a child for the past 35 years.
IVF however, involves substantial work on behalf of the clinician and patient alike, particularly the latter who is required to take fertility treatments to help stimulate the growth of eggs, prior to their removal from the ovaries. Moreover, in the month leading up to egg collection, the patient must self-administer daily injections, undertake blood tests and remain under ongoing clinical observation.
Using IVF treatments can also create other issues. Online medical publication, The Conversation explains the patient can experience significant discomfort undergoing treatment with IVF.
“Taking IVF fertility drugs can cause significant discomfort, including pain from repeated injections, bloating, mood swings, nausea, vomiting and breast tenderness. In rare cases, the ovaries can over-respond, leading to emergency hospitalisation,” reports The Conversation.
To combat the ill effects associated with IVF, Australian and Belgian researchers recently announced a new technique, dubbed “in-vitro maturisation” (IVM), which requires fewer hormone therapies than IVF, and reportedly minimises the risk of medical complications.
For anyone familiar with infertility treatment, IVM may well have been a potential option in the past, but historically, due to its lower success rate, IVF was the more popular technique utilised.
As reported by ABC News, lead researcher, Associate Professor Robert Gilchrist from UNSW, Sydney explained his research team has significantly improved the success rates associated with IVM.
“IVM has been around for a long time, but it’s always been the poor cousin to IVF because the success rates are lower,” A/Prof Gilchrist said.
“What we’ve done here is noticeably improve the efficiency of IVM.
“Rather than treating the woman [with] large doses of hormones for several weeks, we’re taking an alternative approach, which is to treat the egg in the laboratory instead,” said A/Prof Gilchirst.
According to preliminary research data published in the June 2015 of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the newly developed technique doubled embryos when performed on pig eggs, and more recently pre-clinical trials on human eggs have also demonstrated a 50 per cent increase in the number of embryos compared to regular IVM, with minimal use of drugs.
Co-researcher, Associate Professor Jeremy Thompson, head of the University of Adelaide’s Early Development Group, spoke with News.com.au, explaining how compared to IVF, the new IVM technique uses 90 per cent less hormones than IVF, which could substantially reduce patient risk, as well as the cost of treatment.
“What we’ve done is we’ve modelled a new protein which mimics the egg’s own unique protein that actually communicates with the cells that are supporting the egg during the maturation process.
“That substantially lifts the quality of embryos that are produced when we undergo this in-vitro maturation technique,” A/Prof Jeremy Thompson told news.com.au.
Based on the new method, researchers intimate IVM could potentially unseat IVF as the “go-to” infertility treatment for women trying to fall pregnant.
“We believe that IVM will become the routine treatment of choice for all women undergoing infertility treatment,” a research spokesperson said.
As we await further clinical data, the early findings promise hope for those wishing to conceive a child.