In its March 24, 2017 issue, the highly prestigious SCIENCE Magazine dedicated a full-length article to one of CHR’s recently initiated research projects, which we previously described in these pages. SCIENCE is one of the highest ranked scientific journals in the world. It publishes science-related news and original research articles in all areas of science, and to be published in this journal is considered a major accomplishment in any scientist’s career. For SCIENCE to dedicate a full-length article to a CHR project, therefore, must be viewed as a real accomplishment for CHR’s research efforts.
The project in detail described in the article, written by accomplished SCIENCE writer Mitch Leslie, involves the selected administration of Influenza vaccine to women prior to IVF. CHR investigators hypothesized that such vaccinations may induce pathways within a woman’s immune system that improve chances of conception by enhancing the woman’s immune system’s tolerance of an implanting fetus.
Since every fetus is half paternally derived, it for the mother’s immune system is a so-called semi-allograft. This means her immune system should see the implanting embryo like a mini-organ transplant from her partner and, therefore, reject it. But in normal pregnancy, if the woman has a normally functioning immune system, she will not reject the fetus because her immune system will have developed adequate tolerance.
In women with inadequate tolerance development, the immune system, however, will see the implanting embryo as “foreign” and attack it. Consequences of inadequate tolerance are, therefore, failure to implant (so-called implantation failure) and increased miscarriage risk.
CHR investigators hope to be able to demonstrate that, especially in women with a history of implantation failure and recurrent pregnancy loss, administration of Influenza vaccination before IVF cycles improves outcomes by improving tolerance. They are also attempting to identify the specific immune pathways that may relate to tolerance development, since their definition could also have major importance for other areas of medicine, like autoimmune diseases and, of course, organ transplantation.
This study is open to all CHR patients undergoing IVF, including donor egg recipient cycles. We, however, also encourage women with histories of implantation failure and repeated pregnancy loss, currently not in treatment at CHR, to consider entry into this registered study (actually, 2 studies are registered, one in infertility patients using their own eggs and one in patients using donor eggs), and welcome referrals from colleagues.
Since CHR’s investigators are anxious to complete this study as rapidly as possible, they are currently also looking for collaborating IVF programs, which would be interested in joining the study. Interested parties are requested to contact David H. Barad MD, MS, CHR’s Director of Clinical ART at [email protected]
This is a part of the April 2017 CHR VOICE.