Single thawed embryo transfer after PGD does not affect pregnancy rates

Jun 30, 2009

Transferring just one embryo at a time to a woman's womb after embryos have undergone preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and freezing at the blastocyst stage has become a real option after researchers achieved pregnancy rates that were as good as those for blastocysts that had not had a cell removed for PGD before freezing. Their results mean that it will be possible to reduce the number of multiple pregnancies after PGD and the consequent complications associated with these pregnancies.

The research was presented at the 25th annual meeting of the European Society of and Embryology in Amsterdam and published online in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction, simultaneously today.

Dr Yacoub Khalaf, director of the assisted conception unit at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, London (UK), told the conference: "To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to provide reassurance that a strategy of elective single embryo transfer in good prognosis patients seeking PGD, backed by an efficient PGD cryopreservation service, can result in that are comparable to those for non-biopsied embryos that are frozen as part of conventional fertility treatment. These results should empower fertility centres to include PGD cycles for inherited genetic disorders in their efforts to reduce the multiple pregnancy rates after various forms of assisted conception treatment. Given the increasing number of PGD cycles performed each year, the advantage of widespread application of this policy would be considerable."

Until now, fertility specialists have not applied a single embryo transfer policy to PGD for inherited genetic disorders because of concerns about how well biopsied embryos survive after freezing and thawing. "It was thought that the effect of the biopsy might reduce the embryos' tolerance to freezing. This concern was not based on any scientific evidence, only on observations of low survival rates of biopsied frozen embryos," said Dr Khalaf.

From January 2006 to July 2008 Dr Khalaf and his colleagues offered single embryo transfer together with freezing of surplus blastocysts to couples seeking PGD for single inherited genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis. All the embryos were biopsied for the purposes of PGD on the third day after fertilisation, which is the time that they start to divide. Healthy embryos were cultured in the laboratory for a further two to three days to check that they were capable of reaching the next appropriate stage of development - the blastocyst stage. At this point, 32 couples who had two or more embryos that had successfully reached the blastocyst stage were offered the option of having one transferred to the womb and the rest frozen.

The researchers compared the pregnancy outcomes from a subsequent 32 frozen-thawed PGD cycles in these couples with the pregnancy outcomes from a control group of couples where 191 cycles of conventional IVF/ICSI were carried out using embryos that were frozen and thawed before implantation, but not biopsied at any stage.

They found that the blastocyst survival rate after thawing was similar between the PGD and IVF/ICSI groups (87% versus 88% respectively). There was no significant difference in the implantation and clinical pregnancy rates (35% versus 29% and 34% versus 36% respectively). The overall ongoing pregnancy rate for all frozen cycles (PGD and IVF/ICSI) was 34%, which compares favourably with the UK national average for frozen cycles (currently 18% live birth rate per thaw).

When the same period was compared with the period before the single embryo transfer policy was introduced for PGD couples, the multiple pregnancy rate in the cycles of fresh PGD dropped from 36% to 10% with no reduction in pregnancy rates.

Dr Khalaf said: "This research suggests that responsible clinical decisions do not have to come at the expense of reducing effectiveness of treatment. You can be responsible and maintain the chances of success for your patients by good clinical judgment and using the appropriate techniques.

"For patients, this provides reassurance that a couple's chance of having a healthy child is not reduced by replacing only one blastocyst and freezing the surplus ones. Those frozen blastocysts do have a very good chance of leading to a healthy pregnancy too, and, therefore, patients will not feel pressurised to have more than one embryo replaced (with the increased risk of multiple pregnancies) in order to make use of their biopsied, unaffected for which, otherwise, they might have little use. Now, these frozen blastocysts offer them the chance of an additional healthy pregnancy without having to go through the whole treatment cycle again."

The first author of the paper in Human Reproduction, Dr Tarek El-Toukhy, a consultant in and PGD at the assisted conception unit at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, said: "This study represents a continuation of our efforts to advance IVF and PGD safety through single blastocyst transfer and embryo freezing."

Source: European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (news : web)

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

ICSI or IVF: Babies born from frozen embryos do just as well

Jun 29, 2009

Analysis of the longest running ICSI programme in the United States has found reassuring evidence that babies born from frozen embryos fertilised via ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) do just as well as those born from ...

First use of DNA fingerprinting to identify viable embryos

May 14, 2008

Fertility researchers have used DNA fingerprinting for the first time to identify which embryos have implanted after in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and developed successfully to result in the births of healthy babies. The technique, ...

Britain expands embryo screening

May 11, 2006

Britain's fertility watchdog agency has approved expanded screening of embryos to include genetic links to ovarian, breast and colon cancers.

Single embryo implants work better: study

Mar 25, 2009

Implanting single embryos into the wombs of women seeking to boost fertility is more effective and less costly than placing two embryos at a time, a pair of studies released Wednesday found.

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.