A team of doctors at the Imperial College in London, England announced this week that a baby boy has been born through the use of a new in-vitro fertilization (IVF) technique that they hope will prove to be gentler and safer for women hoping to become pregnant. According to NewScientist.com, researchers are experimenting with a hormone called “kisspeptin,” which helps women to ovulate without the side effects and risks associated with current methods.
When undergoing a normal in-vitro fertilization, a woman is given the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which causes her to ovulate, enabling medical personnel to gather her eggs through a surgical procedure. The eggs are fertilized in the laboratory and implanted in the woman’s uterine wall, resulting in pregnancy.
The current therapy carries side effects and risks for some women, including ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). A third of women with OHSS experience abdominal bloating. About one in 20 women experience stomach upset and diarrhea, but in some extreme cases, the syndrome can kill. Research now suggests that the hormone kisspeptin can cause women to ovulate with less risk of OHSS.
The Observer newspaper-hosted site kisspeptin.com describes the hormone “triggers the cascade of biochemical changes that leads to puberty and turns children into hormonally challenged adolescents.”
Study author Waljit Dhillo‘s team knew that during pregnancy, kisspeptin increases to 7,000 times its normal level in a woman’s body. Believing that its effects on patients would be gentler than hCG, the team administered the kisspeptin to 30 women undergoing IVF. Patient Suzannah Kidd gave birth to a boy named Heath on April 26.
As the program progresses, said Dhillo to New Scientist, researchers will find out whether kisspeptin therapy is as effective in IVF as hCG, saying, “We’ll know in six months.”
The team’s findings were presented Monday at ENDO 2013, the 95th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.
New Scientist quoted U.K. fertility physician Simon Fishel as saying that the findings could be very significant. “It’s an opportunity that needs to be studied. It could be very important if it eliminates OHSS,” he said.
[image of in-vitro fertilization via Shutterstock.com]