Cheaper Test Tube Babies?

You're not going to believe this (I barely did).  But researchers in London say it may be possible to do IVF procedures for a little over $200 for women in developing countries.

That's because embryos apparently require very little care, according to Maria Cheng at the AP.  "A human embryo doesn't need much beyond some basic solutions, a steady pH level and constant temperature," she quotes Jonathan Van Blerkom, a fertility expert at the University of Colorado,  who developed the new procedure..

"My first reaction was, 'You've got to be kidding,'" he says to Cheng in the article.  The simpler approach allows women to take cheaper fertility tablets to stimulate their ovaries to release more than one egg per month. In conventional IVF, expensive, potent drugs that are injected can produce more than 20 eggs, Cheng notes.

With just two test tubes and special solutions, "it's possible to generate the exact same conditions, or very similar, to what people are generating in a $60,000 incubator," Van Blerkom declares in the article.

Here's the best news of all.  "Van Blerkom and colleagues estimated that about half of all people seeking infertility treatment could potentially be helped by the method," Cheng writes. Those who have complicated infertility problems, like men with severe sperm problems or women with very few eggs left, will still need standard IVF.

Studies are now on-going in Belgium.

As someone who tried traditional (read: expensive) IVF numerous times to have my son, I'm all for the cheaper, less invasive procedure Van Blerkom espouses., especially if it can help more women avoid the more prolonged, difficult current procedure. 



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