Cheaper, Faster IVF Tests To DNA Check Embryo Health

A Melbourne scientist has come up with a world-first DNA test which speeds up the IVF process and reduces miscarriage.

The Monash IVF-developed test, available from Monday, is also hoped to help reduce the number of babies born with genetic problems.

It checks the health of an embryo by testing the fluid surrounding it. Current screening methods involve taking a biopsy of the embryo, which sometimes destroys it. The new test eliminates that risk.

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Siobhan and Dale McGee have been undergoing IVF for two years.

“It's a huge rollercoaster, it's been very up and down,” Siobhan, 34, said.

“It’s a harder journey now than at the start.”

Photo: Getty Images

Infertility is a struggle faced by one in six Australian couples. The revolutionary new DNA test, developed at Monash IVF, promises to make it easier and faster.

“For us it is a big deal, I think for patients it will be an even bigger deal,” said Professor Luk Rombauts, Monash IVF Group Medical Director.

“You will find those healthy embryos more quickly so a patient won’t have to have a transfer with an embryo that was never meant to work out as a healthy baby."

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Monash IVF Professor Michelle Lane came up with the idea when driving on a busy Melbourne freeway.

“It will really help the patients, stop them from having to go through multiple cycles because we can pick the best embryo the first time,” she said.

“What these new technologies will do is enable us to better rank the embryos so we can be more sure about which is the strongest and the healthiest."

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“About one third to 40 per cent of patients who want to have genetic testing can't access it because their embryos aren't strong enough, so straight away those patients will have an option now to access the new test.”

The new technology is hoped to reduce the incidence of miscarriage and babies born with genetic problems.

Photo: Getty Images

“By making sure that people have embryo transfers with healthy embryos we can reduce the frustration and we can reduce the cost of the treatment,” Professor Rombauts said.

The old test was $800 and 96 per cent accurate, while the new test is $495 and with a 94 per cent accuracy rate.

“If it could simplify it for people and shorten the journey that would be incredible,” Siobhan said.