Improved IVF: Taking Cells from Other Parts of the Body Improves the Technique for Older Women

By Dr.jayesh amin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

New research has suggested a new technique that may boost the odds an older woman has of becoming pregnant through IVF. Older women who are desperate to conceive a baby could be assisted through a revolutionary technique that could make their egg cells younger. Doctors in Nottingham, in the United Kingdom want to super charge poor-quality eggs by using younger, energetic cells located in places other than the ovaries.

What does it All Mean?

For many woman in their 40s who have had no option but turning to a donor egg, may instead be able to use their own. For younger women, the study suggests the technique could boost the odds of becoming pregnant by fivefold.

How does it Work?

The technique works by taking a sliver of tissue that’s rich in immature, healthy eggs from a woman whose normal eggs have become unviable. The immature eggs are raided for their energy producing mitochondria. The mitochondria is then injected into the woman’s aging eggs and sperm when the woman undergoes IVF. The boost in energy rejuvenates a woman’s older eggs and increases her chances of pregnancy.

The Study

For the study, Professor Simon Fishel requested the fertility regulator grant permission to try the Augment treatment, stating “it’s a potential paradigm shift.”

However, there are ethical questions and concerns about the manipulation of eggs. The technique could strengthen the case for tweaking eggs in other ways, such as creating “custom” babies,” with a certain hair or eye color.

One of the three techniques developed by the Massachusetts based OvaScience, the technique aims to revitalize old and low quality eggs in order to give them a power surge. The energy from an eggs comes from the mitochondria, and these tiny battery packs get weaker as a woman ages.

OvaScience believes these eggs can be improved upon by supplementation of the old mitochondria with young, healthy mitochondria that’s taken from immature eggs that could be hidden in the woman’s ovary edges. These extra ‘batteries’ may be able to give the old eggs the surge needed to result in successful fertilization.

The technique is already being tried in Dubai, Turkey and Canada, where the world’s first infant was born as a result of the procedure in August of 2015. When the physician’s in Dubai tried using the technique on five females in their 30s who had been through IVF, the rate of pregnancy increased by fivefold.

Professor Fishel, who founded the world’s first IVF clinic and president of Care Fertility, Britain’s largest chain of fertility clinics has requested the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority for consent to treat twenty females with the technique.

Conclusion of the Study

Professor Fishel cautions that the Augment procedure won’t get rid the eggs of genetic abnormalities that come with age. The price of the procedure will also be compounded when used in conjunction with IVF.
Professor Charles Kingsland of the Hewitt Fertility Centre in Liverpool said, “It is very interesting and, crickey, if it works, it will be amazing.”


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