Fertility treatment: New discovery pinpoints ‘golden window’ for IVF success
Around one in six couples in Ireland experience fertility issues today.
The success rate of IVF treatment depends on many factors, most importantly, possible, the age of the women, and – according to research – the timing of the embryo transfer. The problem? Being able to accurately identify the exact moment in a women's cycle to achieve implantation is often a challenge.
However, new research by RMIT University may now have found a way to better pinpoint the 'golden window' when a womb is ready for pregnancy after discovering a Teflon-like molecule, known as podocalyxin (PCX), that makes the surface of the womb slippery and prevents embryos from implanting.
According to the team of researchers, this could make a real difference in boosting IVF success rates.
"We've been looking for something that helps embryos stick when the vital part of the puzzle turned out to be a slippery molecule that has the opposite effect," explains lead researchers Professor Guiying Nie.
"It prevents them from sticking."
The findings, published in the journals Fertility and Sterility and Human Reproduction, showed that levels of this sticky molecule on the wombs surface decrease at a certain point in the menstrual cycle - allowing the womb to become 'stickier'.
The research found a significant difference in IVF success rates when embryos were transferred, depending on whether this molecule was present or absent.
"Every embryo is precious for families struggling with infertility, so getting the timing right is critical," said Nie.
"We hope with further development our discovery could help clinicians identify precisely when each patient has the greatest chance of achieving pregnancy, delivering fully personalised IVF treatment."
Researchers at @RMIT have found a way to pinpoint the "golden window" for IVF embryo implantation that could boost IVF success rates. @ResearchRMIT. Read more: https://t.co/aS5QyFBEiO pic.twitter.com/oXn14RgEft
— ATN Universities (@ATNUnis) August 22, 2021
"Offer a promising path for us to both improve IVF success rate"
The study involved examining levels of PCX in 81 women undergoing IVF treatment, and what the researchers found, was that women who had low levels of PCX had a 53 per cent pregnancy success rate, while those patients where the molecule had not been reduced had a success rate of just 18 per cent.
"These findings offer a promising path for us to both improve IVF success rates and potentially treat an underlying cause of infertility," said Professor Luk Rombauts from Monash IVF.
He explained that measuring levels of PCX at the mid-luteal phase can be used as a screening test but it could also indicate a reason for infertility, making the molecule a potential target for treatment.