MALLORCA, Spain, April 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The doctor was not in recently.
In fact, hundreds of doctors, scientists and researchers from around the world were away from their offices, gathered in Mallorca, Spain for the 8th International IVIRMA Congress on Reproductive Medicine, April 4-6.
The biennial congress brought together more than 1,600 specialists from nearly 70 countries to present research, debate scientific ideas and spur discovery for the sake of one tireless goal: to improve patient success rates.
The congress is the first of its kind organized by a fertility care provider – IVIRMA Global, the biggest infertility network in the world – and most of the presented research originated from IVIRMA doctors and scientists.
Congress highlights included presentations on embryo gene editing, the influence of metabolism on reproductive outcomes, male factor infertility and the discovery of a potential new embryo selection biomarker: extracellular vesicles.
"Bringing together the best researchers allows us to debate the latest trends in this field and push the limits of reproductive medicine in the name of our patients," said Dr. Juan García Velasco, Director of IVI Madrid and the congress's scientific director. "Every time we meet, we are on the cusp of more powerful and exciting innovation, and this year was no exception."
One of the most promising pieces of research presented at the congress was on the power of extracellular vesicles to act as a biomarker for reproductive success. The ongoing research, presented by Diego Marin, a genetics PhD candidate conducting research at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ), IVIRMA Global's flagship U.S. practice, unveils a possible non-invasive embryo selection route that, if proven effective, could be used in tandem with Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy (PGT-A) to improve implantation and live birth rates.
With the oversight of IVIRMA Global CEO Dr. Richard Scott, Mr. Marin is looking into whether extracellular vesicles, which can be found inside an embryo's culture medium and serve as the communication channel between the embryo and uterus during implantation, can predict a successful implantation.
While there are studies on the relationship between these vesicles and their application in the treatment of kidney disease, the vesicles have only recently been applied in the field of reproductive medicine.
"Embryonic extracellular vesicles offer an encouraging and non-invasive opportunity to assess the viability of the embryo that could help improve embryo selection," said Dr. García Velasco. "However, more studies are needed."
Further research will include identifying these vesicles, isolating them from the culture medium and analyzing them to predict their biomarker potential.
While PGT-A testing identifies chromosomally-normal embryos – a fundamental milestone in embryo selection – about a third of chromosomally normal embryos still fail to implant in the uterus, pushing researchers to search for biomarkers, such as the vesicles, that help predict implantation of normal embryos.
Dr. Dagan Wells, Director of the IVIRMA Innovation Basic Research Center in Oxford, UK, gave another key presentation at the congress: genetic editing of embryos.
While genetic editing of embryos, done through a technology called CRISPR, is controversial, it also holds great promise because it allows researchers to target specific mutations known to cause disease and 'edit' these genes.
"This type of progress generates great controversy," Dr. Wells said about advances in gene editing, "but events such as the IVIRMA Congress act as a platform for debating benefits and problems, including the ethical ones, and in this sense, the participation of the scientific community is vital."
"For the time being, we will study this technique, not because we contemplate its clinical application in the immediate future, but because it will allow us to answer basic questions about the biology and development of human embryos."
About IVIRMA Global
IVIRMA Global was founded in 2017 when the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) merged with Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ). Together, the companies comprise the largest group dedicated to assisted reproduction in the world.
IVIRMA Global currently has more than 70 centers in 11 countries, with clinics in the United States, Spain, Portugal, Italy, United Kingdom, Panama, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and the UAE. For more information visit: IVI-Fertility.com. RMANJ is the organization's flagship U.S. practice, and currently has 25 physicians and 10 locations across New Jersey: Basking Ridge, Eatontown, Englewood, Freehold, Princeton, Morristown, Somerset, Springfield, West Orange, and its newest location in Marlton, New Jersey. For more information visit RMANJ.com.
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SOURCE IVIRMA Global