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Bourn Hall offers IVF patients genetic test to screen embryos for chromosome irregularites

By Paul Brackley

Martyn Blaney, head of Science at Bourn Hall Clinic. Picture: Si Barber
Martyn Blaney, head of Science at Bourn Hall Clinic. Picture: Si Barber

It becomes one of a handful of clinics offering pre-implantation genetic screening

Bourn Hall is offer pre-implantation genetic screening
Bourn Hall is offer pre-implantation genetic screening

Bourn Hall has become one of only a handful of IVF clinics in the UK to offer a new genetic test that screens embryos for chromosome irregularities before they are implanted.

The pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) test helps embryologists select an embryo that is most likely to thrive.

Martyn Blayney, science director for Bourn Hall Clinic, said: “Embryos that have too few or too many chromosomes are known as aneuploid. The risk of this increases with age, but it may also be the result of smoking or other environmental factors.

“We want to select the embryo with the greatest chance of success so PGS may be advised for some patients, particularly those who have experienced recurrent miscarriage following a natural or IVF conception, repeated implantation failure or where the woman is over 35 and her egg quality is poor.”

Bourn Hall has teamed up with genetics firm CooperGenomics for the test.

Martyn added: “The test takes place within the IVF cycle. The eggs are fertilised with sperm as normal and then the embryos grown for about five days in the incubator.

“At this stage the embryo will have reached blastocyst stage and the cells will have differentiated and some will become the fetus and others the placenta.

“A few of the cells, that would otherwise have become part of the placenta, are removed for testing in the CooperGenomics laboratory and in the meantime all the embryos are frozen.

“The results are sent back to the embryologist at Bourn Hall and the normal embryos identified for subsequent transfer in a frozen embryo transfer cycle.”

He added: “The scientific and medical evidence supporting the use of PGS is encouraging, but more robust clinical and laboratory trials are needed to assess whether or not PGS significantly increases live birth rates.”

IVF treatment is no longer available on the NHS in Cambridgeshire, meaning couples having trouble conceiving naturally are turning earlier to private clinics such as Bourn Hall.

It is hosting a free fertility awareness evening at 6pm on Wednesday February 7. Visit the Bourn Hall website for more details.

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