More than 5 Million babies in the world today are born because of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment. And yet, because of the high cost of treatment, this method is still available only to less than 10 percent of the world’s population, mostly in developed countries. In order to make this treatment more affordable, researchers have now simplified a lab method so that it can be used by a larger population of childless couples all over the world.
Published in the Reproductive BioMedicine Online, American and Belgian researchers have demonstrated a new reduced-cost IVF culture system that may replace more expensive incubator systems of conventional IVF methods. The new system does not alter the need for surgical egg retrieval and embryo transfer, laboratory staffing and egg or embryo freezing.
The study was conducted in Genk, Belgium and a short prospective clinical trial was also done with successful results. 16 healthy babies were born using the new culture system.
The authors say that the outcome of the new culture method is very similar to that of the conventional method used for IVF treatments.
The authors write,
“The simplified IVF method has the potential to open up a new era in the history of IVF and may not only change the accessibility of IVF in resource-poor countries but also have implications for accessibility in developed countries too, where IVF is increasingly becoming available only to affluent couples. The trend in IVF has been to introduce new and complex instruments and tests. It is hoped that the new embryo culture method may change this philosophy.”
The researchers say that the stigma of being childless in much more in many developing countries worldwide especially for women. Also because many families in these countries depend on children for economic survival too, being without a child may be a social and an economic problem, apart from being a health condition.
In such cases, if IVF treatments are more readily available at a lower cost, more couples may benefit from the treatment.
Although the method looks promising, the extent of lab costs that can be cut through this new culture system is still to be seen.