Twelve children have been born through the technique, which replaces expensive medical equipment with “kitchen cupboard” ingredients.
High levels of the gas carbon dioxide are needed when growing embryos in an IVF clinic in order to control the acidity levels. This is maintained using carbon dioxide incubators, medical grade gas and air purification.
Instead, the team at the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology mixed inexpensive citric acid and bicarbonate of soda to produce carbon dioxide.
Lead researcher Prof Willem Ombelet said: “We succeeded with an almost Alka-Selzer like technique. Our first results suggest it is at least as good as normal IVF and we now have 12 healthy babies born.”
The results, presented to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference, showed a pregnancy rate of 30% – approximately the same as IVF.
The researchers believe the cost of IVF can be cut to just 10-15% of services in Western countries.
The technique cannot completely replace conventional IVF.
It would not help men with severe infertility who require more advanced treatment in which the sperm is injected into the egg, known intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection.
However, Prof Ombelet told the BBC the aim was to bring fertility treatment to the rest of the world.
SOURCE – BBC News