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IVF latest news - summary of 100,000 publications

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Hundreds of IVF news articles and research papers summarised.  The truth about IVF.  IVF and success rates  IVF results and side effects?  IVF treatments, clinics, doctors?  designer babies and IVF, sex selection, gene screening, implantation rates for IVF etc.  Can IVF ensure a child is born healthy?  Can a woman without a womb use IVF to have children? Can women plan pregnancies decades in advance using IVF?  Can we have babies without sex? Summary of some of 2625 IVF articles and papers in a search of 100,000 publications.

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IVF race to designer babies for designer people: 22 years since first test-tube baby Louise Brown born in 1978.  Before that IVF, genetic manipulation and Assisted Reproduction Technology were science fiction.  We now have not only in vitro fertilisation but also, when sperm are unable to penetrate eggs, we have a variant of IVF - ICSI or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, where genes from the man are injected direct into the egg.  This has resulted in 200,000 men having children who otherwise had little hope from IVF alone.  Trouble is that the same sperm defect is likely to be passes to any male children created. We also have PGD - or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis - gene screening of embryos created by IVF.  So far 200 IVF babies have been genetically screened prior to birth -(as embryos before they were even implanted).  IVF doctors can now destroy all Down's syndrome embryos created in IVF, but is that right - to destroy embryos of future people who may have very contented lives just because the IVF doctors or parents say they would not be intelligent enough?  Now some deaf parents have suggested that they should have the right to use IVF to deliberately select a designer baby - designed to be deaf also, so that the child can be a "normal" member of their own family. They are backed by the Royal National Institute for the Deaf. We are also seeing new techniques to transplant ovarian tissue into a woman's arm so that local cancer treatment will not make her sterile.  At a recent conference on IVF, Professor Greg Stock said: "This is the beginning of the end of sex as the way we reproduce.  We will still have sex for pleasure but we will view our children as too important to leave to a random meeting of eggs and sperm". Summary of IVF San Diego conference. Daily Express 27 October 2000

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Reverse menopause?  Doctors may be able to reverse menopause by transplanting ovaries into women's arms and kick-starting them with drugs, according to Dr Kutluk Oktay, Cornell University Centre of Reproduction in New York.  Courier Mail 25 October 2000

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Viagra for women for infertility treatment - 10 British women have conceived taking Viagra. Dr Mohammed Taranissi, Director of Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre in London said it worked on women with thin uterus lining.  "Very early days but promising".  Work heavily condemned by Lord Winston - UK leading IVF / infertility pioneer who warned of another Thalidomide disaster since Viagra had not been tested on pregnany women and could damage the unborn child. Herald also Times 23 October 2000

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Using genetic screening to improve IVF success rates - couples normally have a 25% chance of a pregnancy with each menstrual cycle, even though fertilisation occurs 60% of the time.  In IVF success rates vary hugely from clinic to clinic but can be only 20-30% per treatment cycle - even when implanting many embryos.  IVF success rates can be a fraction of this in some centres. Dagan Wells and Joy Delhant at University College London Medical School have used gene cloning to amplify every chromosome in the IVF embryo, by taking a cell at the pre-implantation stage and comparing it with normal DNA patterns.  However the technique is not practical on a large scale (yet). For a start it takes too long.  It may not even be useful.  They found that IVF embryo cells were abnormal in 75% of cases - but these "bad" cells may not be representative of the whole embryo.  Mosaicism - or genetic variation between cells is common and can be compatible with a healthy baby being born. Guardian 23 October 2000

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Sex selection in IVF banned by law courts in Scotland.  Alan and Louise Masterton wished to replace a dead three-year-old daughter with another girl using IVF.  Request rejected by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.  Independent on Sunday 22 October 2000

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IVF and time-warp twins - IVF success rates are so low that most doctors implant several embryos in the hope of getting a child.  But twins or triplets are a huge emotional and social cost and risky.  Triplets are 12 times as likely to die in the first year and cost society 10 times more than a single birth. An Australian clinic has produced time-warp triplets - each child born at a  different time, but all created on the same day using IVF.  One implanted and the rest frozen. Queensland Newspapers 21 October 2000

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Designer baby saves older sister's life - Jack and Lisa Nash had a six year old daughter Molly Nash treated by Illinouis Masonic Medical Centre Chicago for Fanconi anaemia, a genetic disorder where the body cannot make bone marrow.   IVF doctors fertilised 12 embryos and tested 10 using genetic screening.  They selected one which matched the tissue type of Molly and froze the rest except the one testing positive for Fanconi anaemia.  A boy, Adam, was born, and his older sister now has new bone marrow, created from stem cells taken from Adam's umbilical cord. The Herald 19 October 2000

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Gene tests for IVF embryos demanded by specialists in New Zealand. New Zealand Herald 17 October 2000

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Designer baby made using IVF for Spanish couple - Father has haemophilia - caused by a gene passed only to boys, so the parents used IVF to make sure only female embryos were implanted. This is also allowed in the UK, but not IVF sex selection to prevent a daughter being born who would be healthy but might pass the gene onto her own sons. Work carried out by Josep Santalo (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Cefer Institute of Reproduction).  Guardian 17 October 2000

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Sperm donors - children want to meet fathers - New legislation in Australia may allow children of sperm donors to trace their fathers before 1988 - the previous cut-off point. The Herald Sun 17 October 2000

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100,000 surplus frozen embryos in US fertility centres following IVF.  20,000 abandoned. But are they people or property?  What should be done with them?  Adoption - but who will be their legal parents?  Destruction?  Burial service?  IVF embryo battles in divorce and custody law courts.  Should they be used as research material?  With or without consent?  In most IVF treatments up to 20 eggs are removed from the woman at at time and all are exposed to sperm.  Many can start dividing but it is only safe to transfer up to 4, preferably less, into the womb.  The rest may be used in subsequent treatment attempts - but after that?  IVF poses many urgent ethical and legal issues.  Los Angeles Times 16 October 2000

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Test-tube babies "hatched" using laser treatment - Dr Robin Yates at the Nuffield Hospital in Glasgow drills a hole in the outer coating of a pre-impalantation IVF embryo to help it attach to the womb lining.   Experiments on rats and mice are promising. The Herald 12 October 2000

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Single woman wins Australia court right to have an IVF baby  - but still trying to get IVF to work for her. Advertiser (Adelaide) 11 October 2000

* Dr Patrick Dixon is author of The Rising Price of Love published by Hodder £6-99.


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