ATLANTA, July 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Reproductive Specialists is pleased to announce the offering of the first validated clinical test able to measure increased levels of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which may explain why up to one-third of implantations fail when transferring a chromosomally normal embryo.
Reprogenetics, the worldwide largest genetics laboratory specializing in Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS), has announced new research demonstrating for the first time a clear association between the level of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the ability of a human embryo to implant in the uterus following infertility treatment. Based on the findings, the company is offering a new test called MitoGrade to assess the quantity of mtDNA in embryos. Mitochondrial DNA is the genetic information within each mitochondria, structures found inside all cells that play an essential role in energy production.
Medical Director of Georgia Reproductive Specialists, Dr. Mark Perloe, explains that one of the hardest aspects of the IVF world is determining which embryo is going to make a baby. "Initially, we thought we would do well by looking to see which embryo looks normal, which is called morphology assessment. We looked at the appearance of the embryo to declare which ones were good and which were of poor quality. It turns out that is probably not much better than flipping a coin to decide which embryo is going to make a baby and which one isn't. Depending upon the person's age, it is somewhere between a 10 -- 35% chance that a given embryo is going to implant and initiate a pregnancy," says Dr. Perloe.
The next step is to look at the genetics of the embryo to determine whether it's a healthy embryo. PGS has the potential to improve the success of IVF treatments by identifying embryos with the correct number of chromosomes. These embryos have an increased potential to implant in the uterus and produce a live birth. Only healthy embryos are transferred to the mother's uterus and consequently the risk of an affected pregnancy is greatly reduced.
But, not all healthy embryos that are transferred implant and result in a successful pregnancy. This new research may help explain why about one-third of seemingly healthy embryos containing the correct number of chromosomes fail to form a viable pregnancy. "In the past year or so, new tools have become available to assess the role that aging plays and we know that when a woman ages, mitochondrial function decreases," says Dr. Perloe. "Mitochondria are organelles, the structures inside a cell that provide the energy. I like to think of them as the double AA batteries of the cell that provides the energy. If we can measure this, within a given batch of embryos, regardless of a woman's age, we will find that some are going to have more functional mitochondria and other embryos are going to have fewer mitochondria and may be less functional," Dr. Perloe explains. When the mitochondria are not functioning well, they try to compensate by making more mitochondria inside the cell. "In other words, if you do not have enough batteries then you go out and get more batteries and the first step is making more DNA. If the mitochondria DNA levels in a particular cell are very high, then that means those mitochondria are not functioning well," says Dr. Perloe. He further explains that if you get mitochondria DNA levels above a certain amount, none of those embryos will implant, even though these embryos are genetically normal.
Reprogenetics has developed a means to test the mitochondria DNA levels in embryos, weeding out the less functional ones, thus significantly increasing the chances of pregnancy. "Based on the statistics provided by Reprogenetics, early studies suggest that women might expect a 65-75% pregnancy rate with a single embryo transfer," says Paula Morton, Lab Director of Georgia Reproductive Specialists.
MitoGrade has been designed to work on the same samples used for PGS so the test does not require any additional work in the embryology laboratory and the embryos do not need to be subjected to any interventions apart from those associated with routine chromosome screening. "Anyone who is thinking of biopsying their embryos would benefit doing this test. It is available now, with only a small increase in cost and is a major benefit. We are excited to be the first practice in the area to offer this test," says Paula Morton.
Georgia Reproductive Specialists was founded in 2000 out of a growing need for a reproductive healthcare facility in the Atlanta area that focused on patient-centered care. With over 100 years of combined experience, the team of reproductive endocrinologists and embryologists at Georgia Reproductive Specialists has helped thousands of infertility patients become parents.
SOURCE Georgia Reproductive Specialists