For couples facing infertility, IVF has long been the established option. Now Australian and Belgian medical scientists have discovered how to improve a woman’s chances of falling pregnant using a less invasive and cheaper alternative – an advanced form of IVM.
IVM stands for Oocyte (egg) In-Vitro Maturation. It’s a process that has been around since the 60’s but fell behind IVF in popularity because of success rates.
In IVF you treat women with follicle stimulating hormones to get a good egg. In IVM you treat the egg itself.
An international research term, led by UNSW Australia Associate Professor Rob Gilchrist, has enhanced the IVM process by adding a combination of Cumulin, a recently discovered potent natural growth factor, and human cell proteins known as cAMP-modulators, to the egg cells.
This new method increased the embryo yield by 50% compared to routine IVM, which brings it to the same level as IVF so could make it a viable alternative to IVF in the future.
The enhanced IVM treatment has not yet been accepted in clinical practice so it is not currently available as a fertility treatment option.
Photographs of oocyte courtesy of Follicle Biology Laboratory of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)