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Advances in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Advances in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) have revolutionized the management and care of couples facing infertility or increased risks for genetic conditions. Most recently, an application of ART has included the option of family balancing, or increasing the chance of a having a child of a particular gender due to a family history of a sex-linked genetic disease or the under-representation of a gender within one family.

At the Genetics & IVF Institute (GIVF), headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, ART treatment options for infertility, genetic diagnosis and family balancing are available. In fact, world-renowned for its pioneering work in infertility and genetics, GIVF developed or perfected many of the treatments and techniques used today in other centers and is responsible for over 14,000 pregnancies worldwide.

MicroSort®, an exclusive preconception technology developed by GIVF, uses flow cytometry to separate semen into specimens enriched in male or female-producing sperm. These samples are then used in conjunction with intrauterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization (IVF). GIVF reported the first human births in the world following Microsort® for X (female) and for Y (male). The MicroSort® process is currently in a US government approved clinical trial and its use by couples requires meeting specific criteria and informed consent. MicroSort® has been performed successfully for families such as those at risk for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Alport syndrome, and is increasingly popular among couples who already have a child of a particular gender.

Another highly technical reproductive technology offered at GIVF is Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). Couples wishing greater accuracy in the prevention of sex-linked disease or for family balancing can use PGD. PGD is a form of genetic diagnosis performed on early embryos prior to implantation in the uterus and initiation of pregnancy. When using PGD, only embryos determined to be genetically unaffected for a condition or of a particular gender are returned to the uterus, and the accuracy of the testing is as high as 99%. As one of the first laboratories to pioneer PGD technologies, the PGD lab at GIVF has extensive experience and success with early diagnosis.

The application of PGD is also widely used for couples wishing to avoid initiation of a pregnancy with abnormal chromosomes or a specific disease such as Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Cystic Fibrosis. Each IVF cycle in which PGD has been performed has a better potential outcome, since embryos screened have been shown to have a lower spontaneous loss rate and a reduced risk of abnormal offspring (i.e. Down syndrome). MicroSort® can be combined with PGD to increase the number of embryos of a desired gender available for transfer.

With greater demand for treatment due to technological advances, the needs of patients presenting for evaluation, treatment and counseling are becoming increasingly diverse and complex. MicroSort® and PGD are cutting edge reproductive technologies that many couples are rapidly electing. Expansion of ART applications are expected to continue as patient demands increase with greater global awareness of their potential benefits.

Learn more about Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)