Future of IVF technology promises exciting prospects, higher success rates

  • Bourn Hall Fertility Centre, Dubai, celebrates the World IVF Day, and the birthday of Louis Brown, the first IVF baby at Bourn Hall, UK, pioneers of the technology
  • Look forward to affordable, non-invasive IVF procedure, fewer drugs and ovarian freezing, among other innovations
  • Doctors stress on genetic testing, choosing quality labs to strengthen pregnancy success rates
  • The market value of IVF procedures in the UAE will rise to $1.5 billion by 2020 

                                         

As the IVF technology continues to take great strides into the future, recent research suggests revolutionary advancements that will further strengthen the success rate of pregnancy. In the near future, couples opting for In Vitro Fertilisation can look forward to infertility treatments that will be more affordable, non-invasive and with the help of fewer drugs. Older women, too, will stand a better chance of successful pregnancy. Other possibilities include growing eggs in a lab, and freezing ovarian tissues instead of eggs for better results. With further inroads into genetic testing including comprehensive methods, such as Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), the success rate of IVF seems to be on the rise.

This was highlighted at Bourn Hall Fertility Centre, Dubai, on the World IVF Day, which also marks the birthday of Louis Brown, the first baby born through In Vitro Fertilisation at Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic, UK, 39 years ago. Speaking at the event, Dr David Robertson, Group Medical Director, Bourn Hall International, focused on the emerging technologies in IVF. The event also celebrated the various milestones in IVF technology which was pioneered by Bourn Hall Clinic founders, Robert Edwards – who won a Nobel Prize in Medicine – and Patrick Steptoe.

“The future of IVF holds some very exciting prospects and we are looking at some great technologies which will hopefully materialise soon,” said Dr Robertson, “There are treatments such as In Vitro Maturation (IVM), where immature eggs are harvested with minimal medication, and matured in the lab, reducing or putting an end to the need for hormone injections. Similarly, there are prospects of freezing ovarian tissue prior to fertility declining, which could be then be transplanted back into a women’s body to resolve normal ovarian function. Moreover, pilot studies have been conducted to ‘re-energize the battery’ of aging egg cells in older women which could potentially lead them to have successful pregnancies.”

Focusing on NGS, which screens a chromosome from 10,000 different points for abnormalities, Dr Robertson also stressed on the need for genetic testing particularly in the UAE, which registers a higher number of consanguineous marriages. The procedure is particularly important for those with family history of chromosomal abnormality of any single gene disorder, recurrent pregnancy losses, implantation failures, unexplained infertility, advanced maternal age and male factor infertility. As per news report, the UAE is home to more than 400 genetic disorders, many of which are preventable if properly screened at the right time. The new-age PGS and PGD tools have given hope to thousands of couples of conceiving babies that are free of hereditary diseases that they themselves were plagued with.

Dr Robertson further advised couples to give importance to choosing the right IVF lab since this is where fertilization occurs, embryos are cultured before transfer, and highly sophisticated procedures such as ICSI, assisted hatching, and genetic testing are performed. He cautioned couples to ensure that the lab they choose follows strict protocols and international standards.

“A full service IVF lab will also have the ability to safely freeze and store eggs and sperm. It should also have up-to-date lab processes and protocols, high-quality equipment and supplies, high-quality air filtration system, careful light and temperature control and highly experienced and qualified laboratory director and staff,” he added.

Celebrating the successful IVF journey over nearly four decades, Hoda Abu Jumra, Group CEO, Bourn Hall International, said: “On this day, I’d like to congratulate all the couples who have grown their family through assisted reproductive technology thanks to Bourn Hall founder Dr Edwards pioneering technique in IVF. We believe it is our responsibility to court high international standards of quality care, principles and expertise along with introducing and adopting the latest global fertility methods for optimum success rate. This is evident in all our endeavours; for instance, Bourn Hall boasts of the first and largest lab in Asia to be a ‘clean room’ laboratory, and our clinic is the only one outside the US to receive the prestigious gold seal of approval from American quality regulator- JCI.”

Currently, thousands of babies are born through IVF procedures every year with the global market value of IVF anticipated to reach $27 billion by 2020. In the UAE, the figures will reportedly escalate to $1.5 billion in the next three years.