Elsewhere in this issue of the VOICE, we discuss that a prominent IVF center through an article in Forbes magazine recently announced a new method of testing for chromosomal abnormalities in blastocyst-stage embryos (PGS/PGT-A 4.0). The new PGS/PGT-A relies on testing of embryonic DNA in spent media, in which embryos were incubated. The claim behind this announcement is that embryos no longer have to be biopsied, which makes PGS/PGT-A a non-invasive test.
Following a lengthy interview with the Forbes writer, Ellie Kincaid, Norbert Gleicher, MD, CHR’s Medical Director and Chief Scientist, was extensively quoted in the article published online on November 9, 2018. Dr. Gleicher was among a group of skeptic scientists interviewed by the writer, including Richard Paulson, MD, past president of ASRM, who said he was “very much opposed to selling the public another unproven technology.” In his interview Dr. Gleicher stressed that a non-invasive test is always superior to an invasive test, but only as long as its results were also equally reliable.
In the case of PGS/PGT-A at blastocyst-stage, proponents of any testing methodology, whether invasive or non-invasive, however, have to deal with one additional problem, namely that many embryos that at blastocyst-stage truly demonstrate aneuploid cell clusters, self-correct downstream in following days by killing off abnormal cells and absorbing those via apoptosis, while normal cells continue to divide, resulting in entirely chromosomally normal pregnancies. As a recent worldwide survey of IVF centers suggests (to be presented for the first time at the upcoming FRM Conference in New York City between November 15 and 18, hundreds of healthy offspring have been born worldwide from transfer of, by PGS/PGT-A declared aneuploid and/or mosaic, embryos.
This is a part of the November 2018 CHR VOICE.