IVF success could double with new way of detecting faulty egg cells

In a study that could change the prospects for the 1 in 15 infertile couples worldwide, researchers in China and the US show how their way of finding genetic defects in egg cells could double the success rate of the reproductive treatment in vitro fertilization.

The new method, based on whole-genome sequencing of individual egg cells, could lead to an accurate, safe and cheap way to select genetically normal embryos for in vitro fertilization (IVF), thus increasing the chances of producing a healthy baby.

As well as looking for DNA sequence variations associated with known genetic disorders, the new approach detects chromosome abnormalities.

Study author Jie Qiao, department director and professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Peking University, 3rd Hospital, says: "In this way, we kill two birds with one stone: one set of deep sequencing analysis to avoid two types of genetic problems."

"Theoretically, if this works perfectly, we will be able to double the success rate of test tube baby technology from 30% to 60% or even more." The researchers write about their work in a recent online issue of the journal Cell.