A new technology may soon speed up fertility treatments and make them more affordable: INVOcell’s IVF incubator, which reduces the amount of medications the recipient has to take, has been found to be as effective as traditional IVF techniques.
Presently, during an IVF treatment, oocytes are fertilised in a test tube and the created embryos are placed in a special incubator designed to mimic the condition in the fallopian tubes – the place natural fertilisation occurs. Several days later selected blastocysts are transferred to the recipient.
The new technique involves placing oocytes and sperm inside a device which is about the size of a champagne cork. According to research, a 1:30000 eggs-to-sperm ratio produces the best results. At that point this IVF incubator is placed in the recipient’s cervix, ensuring ideal conditions for fertilisation. The device is extracted 3 to 5 days later, and the best quality embryos are transferred into the uterus like with regular IVF.
The experts behind the new technology list several significant advantages of the method:
- It requires fewer oocytes. Research showed that while a traditional cycle requires, on average, 15 eggs, only 6 to 8 eggs are needed with the new technique. Thanks to this, patients can be treated with lower dosages of IVF drugs.
- Shorter/simpler treatment: The new method requires only 3 visits to the fertility clinic per cycle, compared to around 10 for traditional IVF.
- Cost: The new technique is approximately 3 times cheaper.
It should, however, be also noted that the technique does not allow for certain pre-implantation tests, which increases the risk of abnormal embryos being transferred.
A study conducted at Texas’ Centre for Associated Reproduction (results were published in the Journal of Reproduction and Genetics) showed that the odds of delivering a healthy child using the INVOcell device were as high as using traditional methods. The manufacturers are hopeful that the IVF incubator will be approved for use in the UK market within the next year.