Monday, January 26, 2009

Hopes Soar After IVF Breakthrough

SKY-A woman who had 13 failed attempts at IVF is expecting her first baby thanks to a new fertility technique.

Ultrasound scan of a baby in the womb

Other women may find hope after the breakthrough

The 41-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, is seven months pregnant. She had previously suffered two miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy.

Dr Simon Fishel is director of the Care Fertility clinic in Nottingham, which pioneered the technique.

He said up to 70% of eggs from women approaching the age of 40 have abnormal chromosomes.

These are unlikely to implant successfully in the womb. By identifying healthy eggs, the chances of a pregnancy are far higher.

Dr Fishel said: "Chromosome analysis offers huge hope to many couples who have a poor chance of conceiving, those who have had many failures and for those who want to maximise their chance at each attempt."

Scientists at the clinic collected nine of the woman's eggs by stimulating her ovaries.

They extracted chromosomes that were no longer needed by the eggs and used a special machine to scan them for abnormal chromosomes.

Meanwhile, the eggs were fertilised using standard IVF techniques.

The results revealed that just two of the nine embryos were normal. These were successfully transferred into the woman's womb.

A version of the technique has been available for the last year - and studies have shown that it doubles the chances of pregnancy from 25% to 50%.

Previously, it took so long to scan the chromosomes that the embryos had to be frozen until the results came back.

The freezing process can destroy embryos, some of which may have been healthy.

The Nottingham scientists have been able to speed up the process so that it only takes a day or two. It means freezing is no longer necessary.

Dr Stuart Lavery, a senior consultant gynaecologist at London's Hammersmith hospital, described the pregnancy as a significant step forward.

"Although it is still at a very early stage, this technique may offer a new diagnostic and therapeutic hope to couples who suffer from repeated implantation failure in IVF," he said.