In what researchers are hailing as a groundbreaking study, scientists have identified the chromosomal make-up of a human egg – an advance that may help fertility specialists select those most likely to result in successful in-vitro fertilization procedures.
This discovery, reported by researchers at Yale School of Medicine and the University of Oxford, may soon allow doctors to avoid using abnormal — or aneuploid — eggs during infertility treatments, and instead to pick eggs that are healthy enough for a successful IVF cycle.
Researchers, writing in the journal Human Reproduction, noted only a few eggs per IVF treatment cycle are able to produce a pregnancy because many have the wrong number of chromosomes. The problem increases as women age.
For the new study, Yale Fertility Center director Dr. Pasquale Patrizio and Dagan Wells of Oxford were able to identify a set of genes associated with abnormal eggs.
"The identification of these genes … can serve as a novel, non-invasive marker to identify abnormal [eggs] and thus ultimately improve IVF success rates," said Patrizio. "This can help us [identify] the 'right egg' to be fertilized and produce a baby."
"This finding opens up the possibility of a safe, effective, and inexpensive way of identifying healthy eggs, potentially lowering the risks of miscarriage and Down syndrome," added Wells. "By conducting these tests before eggs are fertilized, ethical concerns about analysis of human embryos are avoided."