Tuesday, February 14, 2006

IVM - new ART procedure - may be safer, cheaper

A new assisted reproduction technology (ART) procedure called in vitro egg maturation, IVM for short, may be safer and cheaper than the normal IVF regimen. Instead of removing fully mature eggs from the ovaries and then fertilizing them, physicians remove immature eggs, ripen them in a lab dish, then add sperm. With this approach, the woman requires only three days of fertility drugs to stimulate her ovaries - compared with up to two weeks under the conventional method. This may be particularly useful for women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal disorder that disrupts ovulation. It's a leading cause of female infertility and it makes infertility treatment extremely risky because the ovaries can easily be overstimulated.

In fact, IVM is not really new. It has been used successfully in some cases since 1994. But it is a challenge because during normal egg maturation the egg undergoes meiosis in which the nucleus jettisons half of its chromosones in preparation for receiving DNA from a sperm. But achieving meiosis in laboratory glassware instead of inside an ovary is not a perfected process. And even when it is achieved the egg often develops a hardened membrame that reduces the changes of a sperm penetrating and fertilizing it. Still, the process holds promise as it is developed further.


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