A new low-cost IVF treatment developed at the University of Colorado Boulder that has performed successfully in recent human clinical trials in Belgium may help thousands of infertile couples in developing countries.
This technique, which replaces expensive IVF treatment has been used successfully with Twelve children being born through this technique. It uses two connected tubes – one generates CO2 to keep the acidity stable in the other which is where fertilisation takes place.
Data, presented at a fertility conference in London, suggests the success rate is similar to conventional IVF treatment.
Cut price IVF treatment
Usually Fertility Treatment has been expensive in the UK easily costing around £5,000 per cycle.
This technique could bring IVF treatment to millions of childless couples in UK. It produces just as many viable embryos as the conventional method.
This is a major step towards universal fertility care and IVF treatment.
Simplified IVF treatment
‘Not for everyone’
The technique cannot completely replace conventional IVF.
It would not help men with severe infertility who require more advanced treatment in which the sperm is injected into the egg, known intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection.
However, Prof Ombelet told the BBC the aim was to bring fertility treatment to the rest of the world.
“If you don’t have a child in Africa, or also South America or Asia, it’s a disaster. It’s a disaster from an economic point of view, a psychological point of view. They throw you out of the family. You need to help them and nobody helps them.”
Even in rich, Western, countries many couples are still unable to afford IVF and the studies are attracting interest.
“We’ve got demand from the US already.”
Geeta Nargund, at St George’s Hospital, London, is planning to introduce the techniques to the UK: “We have an obligation to bring down the cost of IVF, otherwise we’ll have a situation where only the affluent can afford it.”
Stuart Lavery, the director of IVF at Hammersmith Hospital in London, said the study had the potential to have a big impact globally.
“This isn’t just about low cost IVF in west London, this is all about can you bring IVF to countries which have unsophisticated medical services where infertility has an incredibly low profile.
“They’ve show that using a very cheap, very simple technique that you can culture embryos and you can do IVF.
“The weakness of the study is they’ve done it in a big lab in Belgium, so they need go out and do the same study in Africa now. But if this is real potentially you’re talking about bringing IVF to corners of the world where there is no IVF. This is enormous, the potential implications for this could be quite amazing.”
The researchers anticipate starting out in Ghana, Uganda or Cape Town.