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Exciting new line of research for poor egg quality!

June 2, 2015

This article introduces an exciting new line of research for poor egg quality. This is the nut that needs to be cracked to aid the growing number of advanced reproductive age women who are seeking pregnancy. It sounds exciting as all newer ideas do but only time will tell whether this therapy truly has merit. There is need for intensive comparative studies to really know if this adds to the success rates of currently used IVF technique.

We have seen other promising ideas rise in the past later shown not to be helpful or successful. One such idea was taking the nucleus containing the DNA of the mother and putting it into a de-nucleated cytoplasm of a young healthy donor egg. Using similar logic to the current technique, the younger mitochondria (energy producers) and spindles (chromosome segregators) should have resulted in more normal cell division. It is the egg cytoplasm that joins the male and female nucleus and chromosomal DNA to form the embryonic DNA. It is most likely this cytoplasmic dysfunction in “older” eggs that prevents normal embryos from forming. This former technique did not result in a benefit after some years of testing. There are several other similar examples of treatments popularized by theory, that were tried at great cost to patients only later discovered to be of no benefit.

This newer technique is moving the mitochondria from the stem cell to the egg cytoplasm to provide more energy. Only time will tell. The article states 8/36 women are pregnant for a 22% pregnancy rate. It is entirely possible that this was their underlying pregnancy rate without the technique. We have known for a long time that we need some fix for the egg. This may be an important breakthrough and we certainly hope it is just that. However, we urge caution and hope patients will not be lured to expensive trial treatments that have not been adequately tested.
A much more exciting idea related to this however is the thought that the “stem cell” referenced here could be differentiated or changed into an egg that would ostensibly be like a new young egg not subject to all the cellular stress of the traditional eggs in the ovary of the advanced reproductive aged woman. This could open the door for a relatively unlimited supply of eggs for those in need. This is also potentially on the horizon.

As a side note as most news articles, this one gave some incorrect information. They report 38% Pregnancy Rate for women in their late 30’s and 18% in their early 40’s.
If this new therapy does play out, it will offer a greatly improved pregnancy rate in these patients and will truly be one of the great breakthroughs in our field to date. At JCRM, we are constantly evaluating new ideas, techniques and therapies with the hopes of improving care for our patients.

Dr. Fox
Michael D. Fox, MD
Jacksonville Center
Reproductive Medicine

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