I remain concerned that when IVF doesn’t work, a patient is too often given a diagnosis of carrying high levels of Natural Killer (NK) cells in her uterus, preventing implantation. In fact, it’s far more likely to be a problem on the embryo side – often related to older eggs – and the reality of this can be tough to face.
If it was a case of “well, looking for them and treating them can’t do any harm”, the situation might be more acceptable. However the diagnostic tests for NK cells are not well validated (meaning there may be lots of false results), and the commonly used treatment of prednisone (corticosteroids) may carry higher risks to mother and fetus.
I’ve previously discussed the fact that many studies now show that vitrified (frozen) blastocyst embryos do just as well as embryos transferred fresh. In fact, there are times when a pregnancy outcome will be better when a frozen-thawed embryo is replaced into a woman’s natural ovulation cycle, than when a fresh embryo is transferred into a uterus that has been stimulated with IVF medications (ie a fresh cycle).
Endometrial biopsy (or “endometrial scratch”) is a technique that is increasingly being used as part of IVF treatment. It’s a relatively simple thing to do – it involves passing a catheter through the neck of the womb (the cervix) into the uterine cavity and taking a small sample of the inner uterine lining (called endometrium), and sending it for analysis.
Mark is interviewed on “The Project”, discussing IVF and genetic testing of embryos using the technique of Comparative Genomic Hybridization (CGH). This interview was conducted when Genea was presenting its first results from the technique.