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Increasing success rate for IVF [Print to PDF] [Print to RTF]

Researchers working at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden have made a breakthrough that may lead to greater success in in vitro fertilisation (IVF), a process whereby an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body.

In 2009 an estimated 500,000 IVF treatments were performed...
Increasing success rate for IVF
Researchers working at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden have made a breakthrough that may lead to greater success in in vitro fertilisation (IVF), a process whereby an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body.

In 2009 an estimated 500,000 IVF treatments were performed in Europe; unfortunately treatment is not a guarantee of success and many have to wait a long time before they can try again. Hope may however be around the corner thanks to the Swedish research team who discovered that a particular chemical can trigger the maturation of small eggs into healthy, mature eggs, a process that could give more people the chance of successful IVF treatment. Their results were published in the journal PloS ONE.

Women and girls who have been treated for cancer with radiotherapy and chemotherapy are often unable to have children as their eggs die as a result of the treatment. Many, and not only those undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments, choose to freeze their eggs or even their embryos - although this is not an option for girls who have yet to reach puberty.

A more effective way of preserving fertility is to freeze slices of ovarian tissue that contain small immature eggs. These eggs can then be matured so that they can be used in IVF treatment. Unfortunately at present, there is no way of maturing small eggs in an artificial environment outside the body.

This problem may have been overcome by the University of Gothenburg research group, led by Professor Kui Liu. The team found that a chemical which inhibits the PTEN molecule can trigger the maturation of small eggs to form healthy, mature eggs.

In their study, which was carried out on mice, the researchers were able to produce five live young mice from eggs matured using this PTEN inhibitor. These results build on previous results published in Science, where the group showed that PTEN is a molecule that inhibits an egg's development.

'This discovery demonstrates that there is a realistic chance of being able to use PTEN inhibitors to activate small eggs in a test tube,' says Kui Liu, who is professor at the University of Gothenburg's Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology. 'This technique is extremely valuable for those women who have only small eggs in their ovaries and cannot be helped by IVF as things stand,' he added.

His research group was able to demonstrate that a short treatment with the PTEN inhibitor can trigger the growth of small eggs, and that this treatment makes it possible to produce plenty of mature eggs. Their results also indicate that healthy, live young can be born from treated eggs used in IVF. And not only were the young mice born fertile, but they also showed no signs or symptoms of chronic disease at the age of 15 months, which equates to 70 human years.

Professor Kui Liu is proud of the work accomplished by the team, which specialises in the study of molecular mechanisms that affect the development of female reproductive cells. His ultimate aim is to be able to use this method to help women. 'We hope to see this method being used clinically within five to ten years,' Kui Liu stated hopefully.
Source: University of Gothenburg

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Record Number: 35069 / Last updated on: 2012-09-27
Category: Miscellaneous
Provider: EC