by Dr.Agilan Arjunan, Fertility Specialist , KL Fertility Centre ( Malaysia)
IVF technology has been around for over 30 years. It had helped many couples to realise their dreams. At last miracle is not impossible for couples with infertility. However , IVF is not a 100% solution for all. We know now that we are still unable to reverse the effect of female age on her fertility. A woman’s fertility declines as she ages. The same is true for a man and male infertility in increasing.
The scientists and clinicians involved in IVF or genetics has taken the challenge to improve the success rate of IVF. Research had shown us that IVF success rate can be improved if the embryo that are transferred back into a woman’s womb is genetically normal . Generally, a ‘good’ embryo is selected based on its appearance under the microscope. However, even the best looking embryo can be genetically abnormal and unable to give a pregnancy. Thus the current technology (PGD) employs genetic testing of embryos as a mean to improve IVF success rate. It had shown to reduce miscarriage rates and improve pregnancy rates. But yet, we are still far away from ‘ideal’ success rate for IVF.
Recently scientists had achieved another milestone in genetic testing of an embryo. Apart from looking at 23 pairs of chromosomes which carries our genes, scientist had looked at genes that are located in ‘mitochondria’. Mitochondria is the power generator of a cell , in this case the embryo. Research had shown in a quarter to a third , the number of genes (DNA) in mitochondia is abnormally high. This embryos will never give rise to a pregnancy. Furthermore, high number of mitochondrial gene abnormalities are found in women as they ages. This explains why success rate of IVF reduces as the woman ages.
The finding of this new biomarker is hoped to increase the success rate of IVF in near future.
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