New batteries

New IVF procedure that “rejuvenates” eggs could improve odds for older women

(Monica Almeida/The New York Times)

A British fertility clinic has applied for a license to use a new IVF procedure said to “rejuvenate” eggs and dramatically improve the chances of women older than 30 having babies, but critics of the procedure remain skeptical. The chances of successful IVF pregnancy are 32 percent for women under 35, 21 percent for women aged 38 to 39, and under 5 percent for women aged 43 and older. The problem, some argue, is that the mitochondria of the eggs, which serve as the cell’s power source, become dysfunctional with age. The new technique, called Augment, would remove the mitochondria from immature stem cells found in the ovary and inject them into mature egg cells, replacing aged batteries with new ones.

While some experts hailed the procedure as “a potential paradigm shift,” others were less enthused. Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, a specialist in mammalian reproduction at the Crick Institute in London, said there are still very significant doubts about the validity of the science behind the procedure. Augment needs to undergo extensive testing by the FDA before it can be allowed in the US, but a British fertility clinic has applied for a UK license of the procedure in a trial involving about 20 women. If the license is granted, the trial would likely begin later this year.

Read the full story at The Independent.


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