IVF treatment could reduce harm to cells, study shows

7 October 2011

A new method of fertility IVF treatment has been found to reduce the risk of harming cells.

Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island have developed a way to extract information about gene expression from fertile human egg cells without hurting them and potentially putting the success rate at risk.

Published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the study performed by a team of physicians and biologists was able to sequence the transcribed genetic material, mRNA, in egg cells and in smaller structures pinched off from them called "polar bodies".

The polar bodies were monitored to find out patterns of behaviour in egg cells, which could lead the way for further development in fertility treatment.

Co-author Sandra Carson, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the Center for Reproduction and Infertility at Women & Infants Hospital, said: "Because the egg is the major driver of the first three days of human embryo development, what we find in the polar body may give us a clue into what is happening during that time."

IVF involves delicate procedures, handling microscopic materials, so it is impossible to eliminate all human error, but the Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority offers advice to doctors and patients about what to expect.

Carson, S, et al., "The transcriptome of a human polar body accurately reflects its sibling oocyte", Journal of Biological Chemistry, September 27th 2011.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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