The world’s first IVF baby was born in 1978 in the UK. Since then artificial reproductive technology has been refined and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about four million births, each year can be attributed to IVF in the U.S. This equates to 1%-2% of all births in the U.S. annually. While many people had to put family planning on pause for some of the pandemic developments in fertility treatment have continued. Could artificial intelligence be the future of fertility treatment? Scientists are working on embryo analysis with computer algorithms to help build families.
Scientists from one of the leading independent providers of fertility treatment in the UK, CARE Fertility and Canadian med-tech partner Future Fertility presented their research as to how AI could be used as a more accurate tool to predict human egg fertilization and embryo development. Speaking at the Fertility 2021 conference they launched VIOLET™, an AI algorithm that has outperformed human analysis, predicting human egg fertilization and blastocyst embryo development with 77% and 62% accuracy respectively.
CARE Fertility tested VIOLET™ out against their own embryologists and found the algorithm’s predictions to be 12% and 18% more accurate. They said that this shows signs that AI could be a leading tool in IVF and other artificial reproductive technology treatments.
Speaking about the development, Dr. Alison Campbell, Director of Embryology at CARE Fertility and Lead Author of the research said, “the most valuable application of this ground-breaking software is for people who wish to preserve their fertility. For the first time, people who freeze their eggs can receive a report that not only includes images of each of their eggs, but also predicts the likelihood of them becoming a blastocyst-stage embryo (an important marker of their health), and helps indicate the ideal number of eggs which should be frozen to best preserve fertility.”
This isn’t the first time that researchers have suggested that AI could have a massive impact on fertility treatment in years to come. Ivy was developed by IVFAustrallia as part of the Virtus Health group. It’s a tool that can predict the likelihood of a viable pregnancy from the transfer of a single embryo in someone who is having IVF treatment. Similarly, Flo is an app that you can use to track your menstrual cycle and ovulation. It uses AI to help predict unique patterns within your cycle.
While it may not be the norm yet studies have highlighted how AI could provide doctors, artificial reproductive technology specialists and patients far more information about their cycles of IVF. One of the most essential factors in IVF is the quality of embryos selected to be inseminated. A study published in the Reproduction journal said, “there’s still a lack in the methods of judging the quality of the eggs, the sperm and the embryos accurately. Embryo selection methods using a single parameter or algorithm have not been identified. Therefore, it is difficult to predict the probability of a successful pregnancy for each patient and to fully understand the cause of each failure.”
The average cost of a new cycle of IVF in the U.S. is $12,000. It can cost upwards of $15,000 in some cases and this often doesn’t include the cost of medication. This can add another $1,500 to $3,000 on top of what you’re already paying. The cost of treatment can price people out of even considering it as an option and in many cases, only a few cycles of IVF can only be considered. Insurance doesn’t always cover any or part of it. It’s a massive physical, emotional and financial commitment.
If developments in AI and IVF could give patients and doctors a clearer view of chances of conception and the viability of embryos it won’t just have massive implications for the development of artificial reproductive technology. It could help people make more informed choices about family planning and aid what’s often an emotional process.
This article has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.