What's the Latest Development?
University of Colorado scientist Jonathan Van Blerkom and colleagues have developed a simplified form of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) involving generic fertility drugs and fewer pieces of equipment. Women taking the drugs release fewer eggs than they would using more expensive injectable versions, and with two test tubes, special solutions, and heat, Van Blerkom says "it's possible to generate the exact same conditions, or very similar, to what people are generating in a $60,000 incubator." Current trials in Belgium show that for the 100 or so women who have participated to date, the pregnancy rate and number of infants born was about the same for both traditional IVF and the simplified version.
What's the Big Idea?
Traditional IVF has long been out of reach for many infertile couples, since it often requires several cycles costing thousands of dollars each. Van Blerkom decided to tackle the issue after being asked how to bring the treatment to those in developing countries, where the pressure to have children can be intense and where infertility is one of the consequences of untreated sexually-transmitted diseases. Plenty of people in other countries would benefit from a cheaper fertility method also, says London fertility center director Geeta Nargund: "You should not have to be rich just to have IVF."
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