Novel IVF Technology: Safe and Effective, May Cut Costs

October 30, 2014

The use of an intravaginal incubation device in IVF is found to be a safe and effective alternative to lab incubation of embryos, and it may reduce costs.

An alternative technology to incubating embryos in a laboratory during an IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle, with and without ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), has been found to be safe and effective and may reduce the high price tag of IVF.

At the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Honolulu, HI, two studies were presented demonstrating that the use of the INVOcell vaginal culture device to incubate embryos resulted in embryos that were of comparable quality and pregnancy rates as those that were cultured in laboratory incubators.

“In vitro fertilization is the most effective treatment for infertility and the only one that is suitable for many. IVF is also resource intensive and its expense can put it out of reach of many patients who would benefit from it,” noted Charles Coddington, MD, President of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

In one study –A Randomized Prospective Controlled Trial Confirms the Safety and Efficacy of Extended Intravaginal Culture of Embryos with INVOcell Compared to Laboratory Incubators -- at the Center for Assisted Reproduction in Bedford, TX, 33 women between the ages of 18 and 38 undergoing IVF were randomly divided into two groups. One group’s embryos were incubated in the INVOcell device and the other group’s embryos were cultured in a laboratory.

After egg retrieval, each patient’s eggs were conventionally co-incubated with sperm for two to four hours. Then, up to 10 eggs were placed in the INVOcell device or moved to a laboratory incubator. After five days of culture, patients from both groups had one or two embryos transferred to their uteruses. Ten of the 16 women from the incubator culture group and 10 of the 17 women from the INVOcell group reported ongoing pregnancies.

In the other study – INVO and ICSO: A Pioneer Idea and a Real Alternative for ART -- at the Columbian Fertility and Sterility Center in Bogota, couples went through 172 cycles of IVF in which their eggs were fertilized through ICSI and then placed in the INVOcell device and incubated vaginally for 72 hours. The patients incubated, on average, four or five eggs per cycle, 53% of which divided, with an average of two embryos transferred per cycle. Sixty-five resulted in pregnancies at a rate of 38% per cycle and 40% per embryo transfer.

“These studies show how innovative technology may be able to reduce some of the laboratory costs and lead to wider availability of treatment,” said Coddington.