London: British scientists are developing a test for embryos that could dramatically boost IVF success rates from a single cycle of treatment.
The technique, from experts at Oxford University, checks for chromosomal abnormalities in the developing embryo but also looks at two new markers that could potentially cause pregnancies to fail.
Over time, researchers hope they can increase success rates towards the 100percent mark from just one cycle of IVF.
At present, only around 30percent of IVF cycles worldwide result in a pregnancy, with many failing due to chromosomal abnormalities.
Dr Dagan Wells’ team at Oxford have already pioneered a technique for checking embryos for these abnormalities. Embryos are grown for five days in the lab and analysed to check the chromosome number.
Only those embryos that are healthy are considered suitable for IVF transfer - increasing the chance of pregnancy to 70percent per cycle.
“The vast majority of embryos transferred worldwide have no genetic screening and 85percent of these fail to establish a pregnancy,” the Daily Express quoted Dr Wells assaying.
“If you transfer to the uterus embryos that are confirmed to be chromosomally normal and develop well, reaching the blastocyst stage, the chance of producing a child is very high, about 70percent. But that still leaves 30percent that don’t make it.”
The new technique combines the checking of chromosomes with the appearance of telomeres, which cap chromosomes and are linked to healthy cells. Another marker examined by the test is the number of mitochondria - the power houses of a cell.
“Chromosomes are a big part of the story but they are not the be all and end all,” Dr Wells said.
“There are many aspects of biology that make up a viable pregnancy. Two other good candidates that may affect embryo competency are telomeres and mitochondria,” he added.