Just as technological advances are changing the way we eat, work, watch TV and listen to music, so too they are influencing the way we conceive through fertility treatment.
While it’s true that leaps in science and technology have always underpinned treatment for infertility, recent advances are significantly changing assisted reproductive treatment both in the lab and for patients.
Many believe that technology and process differences account for much of the variability seen in the latest figures on assisted reproductive treatment in Australia and New Zealand (2014, released September 2016). The data shows a large gap in the live birth rate between different fertility clinics – 9.5 per cent at the lowest to 24.8 per cent at the highest (calculated per initiated non freeze all fresh cycle with a woman’s own eggs).
Genea Medical Director Associate Professor Mark Bowman explains that there are many elements that go into giving a woman the best chance of taking home a healthy baby through fertility treatment and how the quality of the IVF process will have an impact on the outcome.
“It starts with the decisions the Fertility Specialist makes about ovarian stimulation and includes the importance of the timing of the egg collection. The quality of the lab and the quality of the embryo freezing technique is essential. I’d argue that the quality of the people the patient interacts with is important too,” Assoc. Prof Bowman says.
Each year, Fertility Specialists, Scientists, Nurses and Counsellors from across Australia and New Zealand gather at a conference to discuss the latest advances in fertility science.
“Interestingly I’ve spent the past few days at our Fertility Society conference and we have been hearing about the widespread trend in the rest of the industry to adopt practices that we (Genea and previously Sydney IVF) first described to the world 10 years ago,” Assoc, Prof Bowman says.
“Ten years or more ago, when we were called Sydney IVF, we first described the technique of testing blastocysts on Day 5 and freezing them while undertaking preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). At the conference we heard that this is now the commonest method in the United States.”
One of Genea’s latest innovations was showcased at the conference. Gavi is an instrument designed to automate certain key processes when snap freezing embryos. Up until the introduction of Gavi – the first machine of its type in the world – freezing or vitrifying embryos was done by hand.
“The single biggest influence on the result from vitrification is the technical skill of the scientist and Gavi eliminates that variability, standardising much of the freezing process for every embryo,” Assoc. Prof Bowman says.
Another Genea innovation making a difference is Geri, an incubator for embryos that uses time-lapse photography that allows scientists to continuously monitor embryos in a stable incubation environment rather than regularly removing them from that environment for inspection as they develop.
“We’ve spent years developing an incubator to culture and protect embryos while they develop outside of the uterus. The vital elements that make Geri work are precise gas and heat regulation and individual chambers for each patient to reduce disturbance,” Assoc Prof Bowman says.
“In contrast to many laboratory products, Geri was developed by an in-house IVF team – Genea’s – who used their collected years of experience to deliver an instrument that meets the requirements of a lab.”
The addition of time-lapse photography to Geri allows doctors and embryologists to monitor the progress of an embryo without taking it out of the incubator to inspect it. The continuous imagery, as against the old way of taking it out of the incubator and seeing it once every 48 hours, helps scientists and doctors detect differences in the development of embryos which may impact an individual embryo’s chance of success.
The information in this article does not replace medical advice. Medical and scientific information may or may not be relevant to your own circumstances and should always be discussed with your own doctor before you act on it.
This blog post is sponsored by Genea
If you’d like to learn more about Genea’s world-leading technologies and how they could help you achieve your dream of taking home a healthy baby, head to www.genea.com.au