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IVF could be made safer thanks to new research

Posted On 2014 Jul 22
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New research could increase the safety of in vitro fertilization. ©Vivid Pixels/shutterstock.com

New research could increase the safety of in vitro fertilization.
©Vivid Pixels/shutterstock.com

(Relaxnews) – A team of British researchers successfully developed a new method for stimulating ovulation, resulting in the birth of 12 healthy babies.

According to researchers, the naturally occurring hormone kisspeptin is safer than hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) for it greatly reduces the occurrence of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), the consequences of which can be life-threatening.

“Our study has shown that kisspeptin can be used as a physiological trigger for egg maturation in IVF therapy,” said Professor Waljit Dhillo, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the study. “It’s been a joy to see 12 healthy babies born using this approach. We will now be doing more studies to test whether kisspeptin reduces the risk of OHSS in women who are most prone to developing it, with a view to improving the safety of IVF therapy.”

In the study, researchers gave a single injection of kisspeptin to 53 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 34 at Hammersmith Hospital in London and 51 of them developed mature eggs as a result.

In what researchers say is a good outcome compared to conventional in vitro fertilization treatment using hCG, 49 of the women had embryos implanted in the uterus and 12 became pregnant for a success rate of just over 22 percent.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2012, 40.5 percent of the IVF cycles performed on women under age 35 resulted in live births, while the UK’s National Institute of Health say that women under age 35 can count on an IVF success rate of between 41 and 43 percent.

Success statistics aside, the safety aspect of kisspeptin is of great importance in the field of infertility, and women prone to OHSS, which can cause kidney damage in its mildest forms, should take note.

“OHSS is a major medical problem,” says Dhillo. “It can be fatal in severe cases and it occurs in women undergoing IVF treatment who are otherwise very healthy. We really need more effective natural triggers for egg maturation during IVF treatment, and the results of this trial are very promising.”

Dhillo and his team are set to conduct another study, this time on women with polycystic ovary syndrome, which makes them particularly prone to OHSS.

Kisspeptin is a hormone whose other functions include inducing puberty. Unlike hCG, which lingers in the bloodstream long after injection, kisspeptin reduces chances for overstimulation because it is absorbed rapidly for efficient effects.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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