'Infertility treatments to more become more afforable'

Asma Ali Zain /Dubai Filed on July 25, 2017
Infertility treatments to more become more afforable
Dr David Robertson with Bourn Hall babies, George and Phoebe, and their father


Older women, too, will stand a better chance of having a successful pregnancy, says expert

In the near future, couples opting for In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) can look forward to infertility treatments that will be more affordable, non-invasive and with the help of fewer drugs, said experts on the 39th birthday of the world's first test tube baby Louise Brown who was conceived through an IVF procedure.

Older women, too, will stand a better chance of having a successful pregnancy. Other possibilities include growing eggs in a lab, and freezing ovarian tissues instead of eggs for better results, said Dr David Robertson, Group Medical Director, Bourn Hall International where Louise was born.

"As the IVF technology continues to take great strides into the future recent research suggests revolutionary advancements that will further strengthen the success rate of pregnancy," he said.

With further inroads into genetic testing including comprehensive methods, such as Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), the success rate of IVF seems to be on the rise.

The event also celebrated the various milestones in IVF technology which was pioneered by Bourn Hall Clinic founders, Robert Edwards - who won a Nobel Prize in Medicine - and Patrick Steptoe.

"If you ask me what I think has been the best advancement until now, then I'll say ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) which has made a huge difference and allowed us to fertilise the egg with the sperm in the lab," he said.

While women are mostly blamed for infertility issues, men are equally 'responsible'. "In this part of the world especially male infertility is a major factor," said Dr Davidson.

"The future of IVF holds some very exciting prospects and we are looking at some great technologies which will hopefully materialise soon," he said.

"There are treatments such as In Vitro Maturation (IVM), where immature eggs are harvested with minimal medication, and matured in the lab, reducing or putting an end to the need for hormone injections. Similarly, there are prospects of freezing ovarian tissue prior to fertility declining, which could be then be transplanted back into a women's body to resolve normal ovarian function.

Moreover, pilot studies have been conducted to 're-energize the battery' of aging egg cells in older women which could potentially lead them to have successful pregnancies."

Focusing on NGS, which screens a chromosome from 10,000 different points for abnormalities, Dr Robertson also stressed on the need for genetic testing particularly in the UAE, which registers a higher number of consanguineous marriages. The procedure is particularly important for those with family history of chromosomal abnormality of any single gene disorder, recurrent pregnancy losses, implantation failures, unexplained infertility, advanced maternal age and male factor infertility.

According to reports, the UAE is home to more than 400 genetic disorders, many of which are preventable if properly screened at the right time.

A couple who had taken the decision to start a family in their 40s, were present to show off their twins George and Phoebe who were conceived with the help of IVF.

Currently, thousands of babies are born through IVF procedures every year with the global market value of IVF anticipated to reach $27 billion by 2020. In the UAE, the figures will reportedly escalate to $1.5 billion in the next three years.


Asma Ali Zain

Associated with KT for 15 years. Covers health issues, Pakistan community, human interest stories as well as general topics for daily news or features.

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