Belgian IVF researchers claim that they can deliver IVF for 10 to 15% of the current cost of conventional programs. “Alka-Seltzer” IVF, as the British media called it, could make artificial reproduction "universally accessible".
Researchers from the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology are promoting their technique as a boon for the developing world. A cycle of IVF which might cost as much as 4,000 Euros would only cost 200 Euros with their system.
However, the technique would bring down the price everywhere, not just in developing countries. As the London Telegraph noted, “If regulators support the idea, it could see cheap fertility clinics springing up in the UK, offering IVF at prices a fraction of those currently offered.”
The low cost IVF system tested in this study was based on an embryo culture method which removes the need for an expensive IVF laboratory with CO2 incubators, medical gas supply and air purification systems. A cheap mix of citric acid and bicarbonate of soda is enough to produce the necessary carbon dioxide.
Professor 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."
"In developed countries the cost of setting-up a high-quality IVF lab is between 1.5 and 3 million euro, but we would expect to set up a low-cost lab for less than 300,000," explained Dr Elke Klerkx, who added that the construction of a low-cost centre in Genk equipped for simplified IVF should be completed by November this year.
This would provide training for clinics from developing countries and a model for centres to develop themselves. "The simplified lab procedure will undoubtedly open up a new era in the history of IVF," said Dr Klerkx. "The method not only offers affordable and successful access to IVF, but will make effective treatment techniques available to a much larger part of the world's infertile population."
This article is published by Michael Cook
and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines
. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us
for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.