Researchers Enhance In Vitro Maturation By Adding Growth Factors

Researchers in Australia have enhanced an existing fertility technique called in-vitro maturation by adding growth factors.

AsianScientist (Aug. 30, 2016) – Australian and Belgian medical scientists have discovered a less invasive and cheaper method to improve a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. Their work was recently presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Reproductive Biology on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

While standard in-vitro fertilization (IVF) requires women to take follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) to stimulate egg cell (oocyte) maturation before they are removed from the ovary, an existing fertility treatment known as in-vitro maturation (IVM) retrieves eggs while they are still in the immature stage, and brings them to maturity in cell culture. In general, clinicians tend to recommended IVF because pregnancy rates after IVM have been lower.

An international research team, led by University of New South Wales Associate Professor Robert Gilchrist, has enhanced the IVM process by adding a combination of a growth factor (cumulin) and cAMP-modulators (small signalling molecules) to the egg cells. The innovation, which has already undergone pre-clinical testing, results in improved egg quality and a 50 percent increase in embryos, according to the scientists involved in the study.

“The aim of our research has been to restore as far as possible, the natural processes that occur during egg maturation,” said Gilchrist. “We have demonstrated that it is possible to improve egg quality and embryo yield with next to no drugs, using potent growth factors produced by the egg.”

The researchers are currently conducting safety studies to ensure that altering the conditions of egg maturation using this enhanced IVM technique does not affect the long-term health of offspring.


Source: University of New South Wales; Photo: Shutterstock.
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