Belgian docs develop IVF tech that is much cheaper

Belgian doctors have developed a low-cost version of test-tube baby technology for use in developing countries, where sophisticated Western systems are unaffordable for most couples.
The researchers said Monday their simplified process cost around 200 euros ($260, or around `15,700) per cycle of treatment and delivered results that were not much different to those seen with conventional in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) programmes.
The price is just 10 to 15 per cent of the current cost of Western-style IVF and suggests infertility care could one day become universally accessible, Elke Klerkx from the GenkInst-itute for Fertility Techno-logy told a medical meeting. Around five million babies have been born aro-und the world since the birth of the first test-tube baby in 1978 — but the treatment remains the preserve of developed countries. “Infertility care is probably the most neglected healthcare problem of developing countries, affec-ting over two million couples according to the WHO,” Dr Klerkx said. In order to slash the price, Dr Klerkx and her colleagues used an embryo culture method that removes the need for much of the expensive laboratory equipment found in Europ-ean or North American IVF clinics. Results from a study showed similar success rates between the standard and low-cost system — and two-thirds of the top quality embryos from 35 cycles as assessed by an independent expert came from the simplified system. “A simplified culture system designed for developing countries can offer affordable and successful opportunities for infertility treatment where IVF is the only solution,” said Dr Klerkx. “This is a major step towards universal fertility care.”

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