New IVF technique hailed ‘most exciting advance in treatment for 40 years’

The pioneering method takes thousands of images of developing embryos in incubators to select those most likely to lead to a live birth. 

The pictures, which are recorded every 10 to 20 minutes using time-lapse imaging, are fed into a computer which uses algorithms to rank the best eggs to select to be implanted. 

A study has found it boosts the number of IVF births by a quarter. 

The new approach will be highlighted at a conference in Italy in May, following the successful results of a study recently published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online. 

The research, led by leading fertility expert Professor Simon Fishel, included 24,000 treatment records and compared IVF babies born without the technique to those born using it. 

It showed embryos selected for implant using the time-lapse imaging system were 25 per cent more likely to have a successful birth for women who had donor eggs and also for those using their own eggs for treatment. 

Professor Fishel said: “This is wonderful and the research demonstrates how this new technology will revolutionise the way we do IVF. 

“This is the most exciting advance since I began work in this field 40 years ago.” 

Experts have discovered the speed of embryo development can be one of a number of predicting factors to a successful birth, along with how embryo cells divide and when. 

Professor Fishel added: “Previously we would have to take embryos out of their temperature controlled incubator and take a snapshot of it every 24 hours, potentially exposing them to damage. 

“Using this system we can gain detailed information every 10 to 20 minutes within the incubator, like having an embryo in the womb with a camera on them, helping us decide which embryos to select.” 

Paul Chapman, 37, and wife Paula, 39, are the first to use the new technique which led to the birth of their daughter Jaycie, who is now three. 

The couple, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, had been unable to conceive for two years and went to the Nottingham-based Care Fertility group to seek help. 

Mr Chapman said: “We could watch Jaycie’s development from the very start of her life.”

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