IVF: a new technique for screening embryos

Publié le : 10 January 2014

 A team of scientists at Beijing and Harvard Universities have just developed a new method to screen healthy embryos within the scope of IVF (In-vitro fertilisation). According to the scientists, this technique could boost the IVF success rate. Currently around 30%, this figure could increase to 60%, explains Jie Qiao  from the Third Hospital, University of Beijing.

The technique, which has been tested on 70 embryos from voluntary donors, is known as MALBAC (Multiple Annealing and Looping Based Amplification Cycle). It involves analysing the genetic code of polar bodies – fragments of cells present in the initial stages of embyro development. More precisely, the technique can screen the DNA provided by the mother for embryo development and therefore test for any genetic anomalies that could cause IVF to fail or trigger miscarriages and even genetic diseases in the offspring, explained Xiaoliang Sunney Xie, one of the scientists at Harvard University. The technique would be available primarily to women with several failed attempts at IVF but could also improve the IVF success rate in older women. 

However, according to British fertility expert, Dr. Yacoub Khalaf, this new technique should be considered with caution because screening is unreliable and may cost women precious ovules and embryos, which are in limited supply. 

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