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Trial Shows Fertility Treatment Boosts IVF Pregnancy Rate

Pregnant woman

(Greyerbaby, Pixabay)

11 August 2015. A clinical study of cellular treatments for women using in-vitro fertilization shows the treatments increased pregnancy rates compared to women receiving standard IVF alone. Findings from the study that tested treatments developed by IVF technology company OvaScience Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts are scheduled to be published on 25 August in the Journal of Fertilization: In Vitro– IVF-Worldwide Reproductive Medicine, Genetic & Stem Cell Biology.

OvaScience says IVF often fails due to poor egg health, with the decline in egg health largely due to a reduction in the eggs’ energy production. The company, founded in 2011, designs and commercializes treatments that use precursor, or early-forming, eggs found in the ovarian lining, for women whose natural egg development is compromised. The technology is based on research by molecular biologist Jonathan Tilly, chair of the biology department at Northeastern University and professor of reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.

OvaScience’s lead product, known as Augment, was tested in the study. Augment extracts the mitochondria or energy components of precursor egg cells to improve the quality of a patient’s fully-formed eggs, increase the eggs’ energy levels, and increase the likelihood of fertilization and a healthy birth. Augment treatments are now available in a few fertility clinics in Canada, Europe, and Middle East (not yet in the U.S.).

The study, conducted at Fakih IVF clinic in United Arab Emirates, recruited 25 clients with a poor prognosis for IVF success and no history of live births. Eggs from participants in the trial were assigned to receive Augment treatments combined with IVF, or standard IVF alone. Embryo quality was then evaluated with examination of physical properties, such as fragmentation and symmetry, that are factors in selecting embryos for transfer. Embryos also received standard preimplantation genetic diagnosis and screening.

After these assessments, the highest quality embryos were selected for transfer and placement. The company says more eggs treated first with Augment were selected and transferred for placement than eggs receiving only standard IVF treatments, by a statistically reliable margin. In addition, embryos receiving the the Augment treatments resulted in more pregnancies than those from standard IVF, again by a statistically reliable margin.

Zeev Shoam, editor of the journal publishing the paper says in a company statement, “Declining mitochondrial function is one of the reasons why women’s egg fertilization and embryo development efficacy decreases, impacting pregnancy rates, and the Augment treatment is addressing these potential energy deficiencies.”

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