Reproductive Technologies: Stem Cell Assist and the Future
Women may be potentially carrying around the answer to their own infertility, when it comes to advanced maternal age, ovarian factor, egg quality issues, diminished ovarian reserve or premature ovarian failure. The stem cells of undeveloped eggs may be able to help the developed eggs, in these situations, become more healthy. The procedure involves a laproscopic surgery to remove a small amount of ovarian tissue and then a second process to remove the stems cells and then extract the mitochondria from these ovarian stem cells and then placed into the developed egg that needs assistance.
The FDA has not approved the process as there are many holes and more research needs to be done. Gene therapy comes with a large amount of unknowns and legal issues. Currently there are only 8 women who are pregnant in the world today with this therapy.
According to researchers, not a lot has change in the world of IVF over the past 35 years. The IVF success rate is about 38% for women in their late 30s and 18% for those in their early 40s on a global level, and that varies from clinic to clinic. Of course with donor egg or other helpful technologies available, there will be huge variation in that number, along with complementary and alternative care such as acupuncture, stress management tools and nutritional guidance.
The Rajanis, who are the parents of the first child born through this process, had tried for four years to get pregnant, utilizing fertility medications, IUI’s, IVF’s, natural therapies and other drugs, without any results. This process helped this couple and in the UK another process dubbed “three-person IVF” (where mitochondrial DNA from a donor egg is introduced into the egg of a woman with poor quality eggs) will be legal. This raises biological and ethical issues.
Researches and reproductive science experts are skeptical as it’s lacking evidence that it’s safe, as well as convincing evidence comparing pregnancy rates of women in randomized controlled trials. No formal clinical trials have been conducted, and the only data is from presentations from doctors who are also advisers to the company that developed the procedure. While a fascinating concept, reproductive researchers believe that the science is just not there yet to back it up, and more studies need to be done under regulated and ethical conditions.
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