From January 2006 to July 2008 Dr Khalaf and his colleagues offered single embryo transfer together with freezing of surplus blastocysts to couples seeking PGD for single inherited genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis. All the embryos were biopsied for the purposes of PGD on the third day after fertilisation, which is the time that they start to divide. Healthy embryos were cultured in the laboratory for a further two to three days to check that they were capable of reaching the next appropriate stage of development the blastocyst stage. At this point, 32 couples who had two or more embryos that had successfully reached the blastocyst stage were offered the option of having one transferred to the womb and the rest frozen.
The researchers compared the pregnancy outcomes from a subsequent 32 frozen-thawed PGD cycles in these couples with the pregnancy outcomes from a control group of couples where 191 cycles of conventional IVF/ICSI were carried out using embryos that were frozen and thawed before implantation, but not biopsied at any stage.
They found that the blastocyst survival rate after thawing was similar between the PGD and IVF/ICSI groups (87% versus 88% respectively). There was no significant difference in the implantation and clinical pregnancy rates (35% versus 29% and 34% versus 36% respectively). The overall ongoing pregnancy rate for all frozen cycles (PGD and IVF/ICSI) was 34%, which compares favourably with the UK national average for frozen cycles (currently 18% live birth rate per thaw).
When the same period was compared with the period before the single embryo transfer policy was introduced for PGD couples, the multiple pregnancy rate in the cycles of fresh PGD dropped from 36% to 10% with no reduction in pregnancy rates.
Dr Khalaf said: "This research suggests that responsible clinical decisions
|Contact: Mary Rice|
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology