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8th November 2021 Latest News Pregnancy And Birth

Exciting update in IVF research

Dr Kylie Dunning

New method improves IVF success rates for hopeful parents

IVF is the most common way to address infertility, yet it still has a remarkably low success rate with less than one in five initiated cycles delivering a live birth.

Now, exciting progress has been made on a THRF-funded project which aims to improve IVF success rates for hopeful parents!

Dr Kylie Dunning of the University of Adelaide is leading a revolutionary study that uses a non-invasive method to assess embryo health by illuminating embryos purely with light.

The method is gentle and accurate so that a higher proportion of healthy embryos can be transferred during the IVF process.

The research team, in collaboration with IVF clinic Fertility SA and colleagues at the University of NSW, has been able to show that this approach is fast, accurate and does no harm. The results are published in the leading journal Human Reproduction.

“One of the greatest challenges for an IVF clinic is identifying which embryos are suitable for transfer back into the patient’s uterus,” Dr Dunning said.

“The current technology takes a small number of cells from the embryo (a biopsy), then sequences the DNA to confirm that the embryo has the predicted number of chromosomes.”

As well as being invasive, this procedure can be inaccurate.

Tiffany Tan, primary author on the publication, said their interdisciplinary team had developed a new technology that overcomes the need for a cell biopsy and instead uses light to take a non-invasive ‘molecular photo’.

Dr Dunning said this revolutionary procedure involved shining gentle doses of light upon an embryo and measuring the scattered light that comes back from it.

“This reveals the intricacies of its biochemistry, providing insight into the health of the embryo. Ultimately this will inform clinical choice for the embryo that will be used in the IVF procedure.”

With THRF’s support, Dr Dunning has been able to show that the approach can accurately diagnose whether an embryo has the expected number of chromosomes.

“Importantly, this approach is safe and may lead to a new diagnostic,” she said.

With a few more steps needed to bring this technology into clinics, we look forward to updating you on this revolutionary work that will help millions of people worldwide!