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New £200 test hugely increases IVF success rate

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Oxford University scientists have created an embryo screening method that will significantly improve the chances of conceiving for IVF patients. The test costs £200 and could be available within the next six months.

Increased odds

Scientists already use chromosome testing, which raises the likelihood of conception from 40% to 65% for women in their mid-30s, but this new test raises the odds to 80%. This is almost the same chance that fertile women have of conceiving naturally.

The procedure involves looking for abnormal levels of mitochondrial DNA in embryos prior to implantation, thereby increasing the chances of a successful birth. Until now, IVF doctors have been studying the embryos under a microscope so that they can pick the best ones.

Emotional and financial implications

Dagan Wells, of the Reprogenetics lab and the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, said: ‘No one can dispute that IVF has been tremendously successful. If you go into any classroom at least one child will have been born through IVF. However it is still the case that many patients don’t get pregnant, and some patients have many cycles and never come away with a baby. That has high emotional and financial implications.

‘There is a great desire to make IVF less of a roller coaster and give more certainty to the outcome. We’re not very good at picking out which embryo will give rise to a baby.’

Creating a viable pregnancy

Adam Balen of the British Fertility Society said: ‘This study presents a fascinating insight into the potential relationship between mitochondrial activity in genetically normal embryos and their potential for developing into a viable pregnancy.’ivf nhs

Stuart Lavery, consultant gynaecologist and honorary senior lecturer in reproductive medicine at Imperial College London, said: ‘This important research sheds more light on our understanding of early human embryo development. IVF remains a very inefficient process, with many embryos generated not leading to a pregnancy.

‘This new finding of mitochondrial assessment in human embryos could offer an additional opportunity to screen embryos prior to implantation, helping patients get pregnant quicker.’

Already in use in America

The Oxford scientists will be presenting their findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Baltimore today, but many clinics in the US are already using the procedure. To conduct the same procedures in Britain, the team must receive permission from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

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About Siobhan Harmer

About Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is an English Freelance writer who drinks far too much coffee!!

Website: Siobhan Harmer

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