02:58 6th June 2017 | AUGMENT
What if we told you that there’s a treatment, called AUGMENT℠, that would allow more mature females to have their eggs re-energised ? What does that even mean? Let’s start from the beginning...
When it comes to female fertility, the ability to conceive starts decreasing at age 32. Then, from age 37 onwards, it gets even harder. Why is this? Well, as women age, their supply of eggs start to dwindle, but that’s not all. The remaining supply has a higher likelihood of featuring abnormal DNA which could affect the baby’s health. No parent wants that.
Luckily, for many couples, most fertility challenges have solutions and the medical advances continue to surprise and offer hope. Doctors and scientists are always experimenting, researching and testing to enhance the chances of successful, safe pregnancies, especially in older women where the risks and challenges are even greater.
In Vitro Fertilisation
IVF is often the first step and other treatments build on that. Still, age plays a role when it comes to successful IVF (and other) procedures, because even though there may be eggs, they are still ageing.
One way to combat this problem is to preserve eggs by freezing them. Eggs can be harvested and frozen when women are younger to pause the natural effects of ageing. This procedure is becoming more mainstream, but it’s still invasive and often pricey. And, as with most fertility procedures, it doesn’t guarantee a successful pregnancy. Some specialists may only recommend egg freezing before a women needs to undergo chemotherapy or other procedures that are harmful to ovaries.
PGD and PGS
With preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), which can only be performed during IVF, couples are able to test for certain genetic and chromosomal abnormalities. Essentially embryos are analysed to choose ones with a higher chance of resulting in the successful pregnancy and birth of a healthy baby. It has even been suggested that these procedures boost successful IVF rates.
Now we’re getting somewhere...
Mitochondria is the part of a woman’s egg cells responsible for generating energy and a procedure has been developed to help women with mitochondrial diseases. However, with older women, mitochondria can become damaged or less efficient, even though there is no disease present. Without the necessary
amount of energy, the development process after fertilisation can be affected, which can directly influence the baby’s health.
Re-energising Ageing Cells: Introducing AUGMENT℠ Treatment
The part you’ve all been waiting for...
If mitochondria degradation (not mitochondrial disease) is to blame, another procedure can help. OvaScience (in the USA) wants to boost egg cells’ energy. How? The procedure would involve taking extra mitochondria from the patient’s own cells. This means there’s no need for an egg donor (compared to if the woman had a mitochondrial disease).
This innovative new procedure, which holds a patent, is called AUGMENT℠. It involves an ovary biopsy, stem cell yielding and the possible creation of eggs. Fresh mitochondria from the stem cells and sperm are injected into the egg. With fresh mitochondria, the older egg may be more effective. This is where the idea of re-energising comes from. You recharge the ‘batteries’ so it’s ready to accept the sperm, make a healthy embryo and eventually a baby.
AUGMENT℠ is highly experimental and not approved in all countries.
To date, the number of successful pregnancies from this treatment performed on various women is not high, but compared to regular IVF results for the same women who underwent multiple
IVF procedures first, the difference is significant.
More data is needed, but if the procedure is proven safe and efficient, more mature (previously infertile) women can become pregnant and give birth with their own eggs via IVF.
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