Mummy Buzz


New IVF Procedure Brings New Hope for Prospective Parents

Augmenting the Chances of Conception


There is new hope for would-be parents undergoing IVF procedures, after the birth of the "world's first stem cell baby" here in Canada. Not the most charming way to describe a human baby, granted.

Nonetheless, the technique known as Augment could be a game-changer for those whose previous IVF attempts were unsuccessful.
Three weeks ago, Zain Rajani was born after his parents underwent Augment, a process that injects a mother's eggs with mitochondria from her ovarian stem cells. The new type of IVF by OvaScience is intended to revitalize "older eggs."

Apparently using mitochondria from young, primitive cells improves egg quality, which is vital for the development of a healthy embryo.

Before we jump the gun, out of the 36 women in four countries who have so far tested the technique, only eight are currently pregnant. And Augment is still awaiting formal clinical trials and US Food and Drug Administration approval.

And some scientists remain skeptical.

"There's a lack of evidence of efficacy, efficiency and safety," said Newcastle University's Alison Murdoch.

"The problem in older women is the quality of the nuclear genome in their eggs, and adding more mitochondria will not help that problem. Also, manipulation of the embryo at that very sensitive time could cause more problems for the nuclear genome, which is why safety data is critical."

The whole concept of mitochondrial IVF is not a new one. It has been done with a high success rate in the past, using donor eggs from younger women. This method raised ethical concerns, though, since babies theoretically had three parents, much like the controversial form of IVF recently approved in the UK.

If Augment becomes a common or widespread form of infertility treatment however, it would prove a more desirable form of IVF since it uses the mother's own cells. And for those whose previous IVF cycles have failed, the mitochondrial method offers a promising avenue on the path to conception.

Also read: Dear Jerks; Our IVF and IUI Children are not "Synthetic"