IVF Advance - 70 babies born from embryos that would have previously been discarded

 A study by Genea Fertility scientists has led to the birth of 70 healthy babies from the use of embryos which would have previously been deemed unfit for use and discarded.

Embryos created during fertility treatment are graded on their appearance during the early stages of development. Traditionally embryos classified as 1PN (one pro-nuclei) were believed to have insufficient genetic material to be viable and were therefore discarded.

However, Genea Fertility embryologists believed a number of 1PN embryos had the potential to achieve successful pregnancies, despite the lack of genetic material seen during early development.

To investigate this possibility, 1PN embryos created at Genea Fertility clinics across the country between January 2017 and November 2022 underwent pre-implantation genetic testing to ascertain whether they contained the required 23 pairs of chromosomes. If the embryos had 23 chromosome pairs, additional genetic testing was applied to confirm the presence of DNA from both parents.

These additional layers of testing resulted in more than 700 1PN embryos created during the study period being deemed viable for use, instead of being discarded. So far, 70 babies have been born following the transfer of these embryos. There are also five ongoing pregnancies, and more than 500 viable 1PN embryos remain frozen in storage for future use.

Genea Fertility Scientist Clare Ussher presented the findings at the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand annual conference on the Gold Coast last month. She was also invited to present at the prestigious European Society Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Copenhagen three weeks ago.

Genea Fertility Scientific Director Steven McArthur said the study findings were significant as they increased the number of embryos available for use in an IVF cycle. 

“Our aim is always to maximise the number of viable embryos created in any IVF cycle because the more embryos that are available for transfer, the higher the chance of achieving a successful pregnancy and consequently a healthy live birth,” he said. 

“Ideally a woman or couple will have enough viable embryos from one IVF cycle to complete their family without having to undergo further cycles. This is more likely to happen if 1PN embryos such as these are tested for their viability, rather than routinely discarded.”

Mr McArthur said Genea Fertility’s investment and work as pioneers of the genetic testing of embryos since the early 2000s means its patients have access to industryleading technology that make advances in embryology possible.

“Not all IVF clinics offer genetic testing of embryos, and it is definitely something that can make a huge difference to outcomes for patients,” he said. 
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