Technique boosts IVF chance of pregnancy

The low success rate of
in vitro fertilisation (IVF) will be substantially improved by a new technique for counting the number of chromosomes in each cell of an early embryo, British scientists will announce today at a scientific conference.

The low success rate of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) will be substantially improved by a new technique for counting the number of chromosomes in each cell of an early embryo, British scientists will announce today at a scientific conference.

By ensuring that test-tube embryos have the correct number of chromosomes before implanting them into the womb, scientists hope to rectify the position in which even the best IVF treatment can still result in an abysmally low number of viable pregnancies.

Dagen Wells and Joy Delhanty of University College London Medical School developed the chromosome-counting technique to enable doctors to assess how many abnormal cells there are when an early embryo is at the 6-8 cell stage.

"We hope that the new technique will help embryologists to decide which embryos are the most likely to implant and develop normally. By preferentially transferring these embryos, considerably higher success rates may ultimately be achieved," Dr Wells said.

Humans have a naturally low fecundity with only a 25 per cent chance of achieving a pregnancy in each menstrual cycle even though successful fertilisation of an egg may occur in as many as 60 per cent of cycles. The difference between conception rate and birth rate is thought to be partly due to chromosomal abnormalities in early embryos, which hinder their ability to implant themselves into the wall of the womb.

By selecting those embryos with the correct number of chromosomes in each cell, embryologists hope to boost IVF success rates. Up to now, chromosome counting has been limited, with low numbers being counted in just a small proportion of the embryonic cells.

"Having a small number of abnormal cells does not automatically mean an embryo will fail to implant or that there will be a miscarriage: however, the chances of such an embryo forming a successful pregnancy are considerably less than those of a chromosomally normal embryo," Dr Wells said.

The technique, which will be given the conference prize at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's annual meeting in San Diego this week, has been tested on 12 human embryos donated by parents having IVF treatment. Only three of the embryos were found to be completely "normal" with 46 chromosomes in all cells. Nine contained at least one abnormal cell and three contained no normal cells at all.

The findings, published in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction, demonstrate that the proportion of human embryos resulting from IVF that are completely normal is actually quite low.

Professor Delhanty said more work was necessary before the technique could be made widely available. "We are currently working on the next step - reducing the length of the procedure so that it can be applied in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing