IVF & DNA Success Breakthrough

Researchers at Oxford University and a US company Reprogenetics have made an important advance in identifying the best embryos to use for implantation during IVF. More than half of embryos have genetic defects that prevent them being used in IVF treatment. DNA tests are used to identify up to 35 % of these embryos.

The advance relates to measuring the DNA in the embryos' mitochondria - the tiny cell structures that generate energy within cells, (they basically provide energy to power the larger cells they exist within).

The researchers found that embryos with more mitochondria were less likely to suvive the actual implantation process - the opposite of what was previously thought.

It is hoped that the new information will lead to significant increases in IVF success rates, up to 80% for women in their thirties.

Almost 50,000 women underwent IVF treatment in the UK in 2013, with only a third being successful.

It is hoped that the new test will be made available on the NHS next year. Given the test will increase the chances of success it may actually lead to cost savings as fewer rounds of IVF treatment will be required.

The results of the study will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.