Now, a revolutionary technique exists that can help older women desperate to become mothers by rejuvenating their eggs.
The scientists said that one of three treatments being developed by Massachusetts-based OvaScience, Augment can effectively make older eggs young again by adding a fresh set of “batteries” transferred from more youthful cells in the ovaries identified by a scientific process pioneered in the United States, the Independent reported.
A British fertility clinic has applied to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for a licence to use the procedure in a pilot trial involving about 20 women undergoing IVF treatment. If the licence is granted, the trial is likely to begin later this year.
Simon Fishel, professor of human reproduction and founder of Care Fertility in Nottingham, said that there is a body of scientific evidence suggesting that the mitochondria of eggs from some patients, those over 37, those previously shown to have poor-quality embryos after IVF, is part of the problem in getting viable embryos for such patients.
He added that some scientific studies have shown that egg precursor cells can be harvested for their mitochondria, and if obtained they are healthy mitochondria, in contrast to the problematic eggs.
The technique, called Augment, is not however yet allowed in the US because it has been defined as a novel drug in need of extensive testing by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Fishel said this fact should not influence whether it is given a licence in the UK “otherwise we are left with some big questions that will not advantage patients in the long run.”
If Augment works it could be as big a revolution in fertility treatment as ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where individual sperm cells are injected directly into unfertilised eggs with dramatic improvements in fertility rates, he said.