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Major Breakthrough in IVF Treatment Raises Success Rate by 60%

May 18, 2013 11:58 PM EDT
IVF timelapse imaging technique could 'increase' chances of a successful birth

(Photo : Reuters)

A major breakthrough in fertility treatment occurred this week with a new in-vitro fertilization (IVF) technique which claims to boost the chances of a successful birth by almost 60 percent and is already being dubbed the most significant breakthrough in fertility treatment for years.

The new technology uses time-lapse imaging to look at embryos as they are growing and identify those which have chromosomal abnormalities. The current method entailed keeping the embryos refrigerated and taking them out once a day, placing them under a microscope and examining their development. With the new imaging, doctors have the ability to take thousands of images in real-time and quickly identify healthy embryo's compared to unhealthy ones.

In their study, published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, the researchers say they can chances of producing a successful live birth after IVF increased by 56 percent using the new technique compared to the standard method. The embryos grow in the incubators for five days, during which 5,000 pictures are taken, revealing the various stages of their development. 

"In the 35 years I have been in this field, this is probably the most exciting and significant development that can be of value to all patients seeking IVF," said Professor Simon Fishel, a leading fertility doctor and director at the IVF clinic operator CARE Fertility where the technique is being developed.

"Every IVF practice in the world is unintentionally and unwittingly putting back into the womb unviable embryos that don't make babies," Fishel said.

"We hope to see a paradigm shift in terms of IVF. It's a game changer for everybody to have such an uplift in live birth rates. This is the beginning of something revelatory," he added.

However, the study was small, with only 69 couples, and some experts say many women lack the luxury of choice when it comes to embryo implantation. An IVF cycle starts with a woman taking drugs to stimulate the production of multiple eggs. After about two weeks, the eggs are collected and fertilized. Then, the resulting embryos are grown in a lab for up to five days, depending on how many there are and how healthy they look.

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