Are you struggling to conceive a baby the old-fashioned way? You’ll be glad to know there is a new in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique that may potentially improve you and your partner’s chances at having a child.

For years, IVF has been the chosen route by many infertile couples. This treatment involves fusing the female’s egg with the male’s sperm in test tubes. Once fertilized, the egg will grow into an embryo, which will be implanted into the uterus. However, the downside to IVF is its cost. Did you know its average cost in the U.S. is about $12,000 per treatment cycle, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine? What’s more, IVF is time-consuming and emotionally draining.

For this reason, researchers from Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes and the National Tsing Hua University endeavored to develop a more efficient and cost-effective IVF process. With their technique, they seek to make the embryo screening and growth processes prior to implantation more effective. In addition, the outcome of the study is intended to improve IVF success rates and ultimately lower costs.

“We are interested in understanding the essential needs of a developing embryo and aiming to improve embryo culture,” lead researcher Chihchen Chen said, as they hope to lower the stress levels among IVF patients by reducing the treatment cycles and the number of embryos transferred without compromising the results.

For this study, Chen and colleagues cultured mouse embryos, spreading them over a plate of open microwells. This system allowed these embryos to have their own microenvironment, which facilitated the researchers’ case-to-case study to identify which embryos were the most viable.

“Embryos are very sensitive to their environments,” Chen added. “Understanding the microenvironment of embryos allows us to promote the growth and minimize the epigenetic manipulation of embryos.”


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