Greatly improved endometrium in IVF, using cytokine already approved by FDA for other indications

New research at New York fertility clinic Center for Human Reproduction finds that endometrial perfusion with G-CSF can dramatically improve endometrium in IVF cycles.

For immediate release

February 23, 2011 (New York, NY) – During in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles, treatment with a medication called granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) significantly improves inadequate endometrium (lining of the uterus), according to a report published electronically on February 15 in Fertility and Sterility, the official journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). The reported case series also suggests that G-CSF treatment may, in general, improve IVF pregnancy chances. G-CSF is a cytokine that has already been approved by the FDA for other indications.

Researchers from New York City-based Center for Human Reproduction (CHR) and a second local fertility center report on four women with highly inadequate endometrium, unresponsive to conventional treatments, facing IVF cycle cancellation. In all four cases, endometrial perfusion of G-CSF expanded the endometrium to a minimal thickness of 7mm within approximately 48 hours, allowing for embryo transfer. Surprisingly, all four patients also conceived.

In approximately 1% of all IVF cycles, the endometrium stays too thin for embryos to successfully implant, even with treatment. In such IVF cycles, patients and physicians face two poor options: they either accept lower pregnancy chances and transfer embryos despite inadequate endometrium, or they can cancel the embryo transfer and freeze all embryos in hope of better future cycles. Unfortunately, women with inadequate endometrium often show inadequate endometrium again in future cycles. This situation was demonstrated by two patients in this reported case series with histories of repeat IVF failures due to thin endometrium.

“Conventional treatments for inadequate endometrium have had spotty success at best. Without G-CSF perfusion, these patients, likely, would not have reached embryo transfer,” explains David Barad, MD, one of the senior authors of the report, and Director of Clinical ART at CHR. “That all of them also conceived was a big surprise, and is, of course, quite remarkable.”

“The efficacy of G-CSF in improving endometrium, and possibly pregnancy rates in general, still needs to be confirmed in randomized controlled trials,” adds Norbert Gleicher, MD, lead author of the report and Medical Director of CHR. “Indeed, we already started two such trials to test both hypotheses; but until first results become available later in 2011, we caution against over-interpreting results of this small pilot study.”

CHR is a leading infertility center in New York City, with world-wide patient clientele, well recognized for its extensive clinical research program, which over the years contributed a number of major breakthrough to the IVF process. Drs Gleicher and Barad are available for additional comments.

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Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.