The Short of It
After four years of trying to get pregnant, Natasha and Omar Rajani were able to conceive through Augment, which is being called a breakthrough IVF treatment that could help more couples overcome infertility.
Augment is used in cases of poor egg quality, one of the most common reasons for infertility. In the procedure, a small piece of the woman's ovarian tissue is removed, and then egg stem cells are taken from it. The mitochondria from those stem cells are then added to her eggs to improve their quality.
Natasha and Omar had previously tried fertility drugs, IUI and traditional IVF, which eventually resulted in a miscarriage. But after the Augment procedure, the couple was able to conceive and freeze two embryos for potential future use. Baby Zain was born this April, which makes him the first baby born after being conceived through Augment.
"We see Zain as a symbol of hope for all couples struggling with infertility," Natasha said. "While the process is long, emotional and physically draining, there is light at the end of the tunnel—and that light for us is Zain."
Some experts are seeing this as a huge leap for IVF. They believe Augment can considerably increase the success rate, which right now is about 38 percent for women in their late 30s and 18 percent for those in their early 40s.
"We could be on the cusp of something incredibly important," Dr. Owen Davis, president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), told Time. "Something that is really going to pan out to be revolutionary."
But there hasn't been testing yet to conclude that IVF using Augment is more effective than IVF without it. Plus, the treatment raises some ethical questions, and it's not available in the U.S. yet, since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates gene therapy methods.
Plans are in the works to test Augment over 1,000 cycles this year. Once researchers know more, there may be a decision to bring it to the United States.
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