Older women may be more successful in having children through in vitro fertilization (IVF) thanks to an experimental new technique.
A private clinic based in London has applied to government regulatory body the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for permission to run a pilot trial of the ‘Augment’ technique. This involves injecting younger cells into older eggs. Scientists believe it will effectively recharge the eggs and therefore increase the odds of conception, especially among older women.
Currently, women under the age of 35 have a roughly 32 per cent chance that IVF will be successful. After they reach 44 years old, however, the odds of treatment working drops dramatically to only two per cent.
The proposed pilot of the Augment technique would involve 20 women receiving treatment. If the HFEA grants the clinic a license to perform it the pilot could take place later this year, The Independent reports.
Simon Fishel is a professor of human reproduction and the founder of the ‘Care Fertility’ clinic in Nottingham. He said that previous studies which replaced “problematic eggs” with those that had been through Augment found that the technique produced “better quality and therefore more viable embryos with higher chances of pregnancy”.
However, the technique has not been approved in the United States even though it was developed there. Additionally, some scientists are not convinced that it will be as effective as its advocates claim. Professor Robin Lovell-Badge is an HFEA adviser who works at medical research group the Crick Institute. He said that “there is not much evidence that [Augment] does anything” and warned that the HFEA would not be receptive to the technique “if there is not a robust scientific basis for the proposal”.