Protest against IVF
A man holds a sign that reads "Error, terror, pain, in vitro" during a protest against the decree signed by Costa Rica's President Luis Guillermo Solis, legalizing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in front of the Supreme Court in San Jose, Costa Rica September 15, 2015. Reuters/Juan Carlos Ulate

Australian and Belgian scientists have made a breakthrough in infertility treatment as they have developed a new in-vitro maturation (IVM) method that can eliminate painful hormone injections required in in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

The highly enhanced method may also prove to be a more affordable option for couples seeking fertility treatment. IVF hormone injections stimulate egg growth before they are removed from the ovaries to be fertilised.

However, researchers at UNSW, The University of Adelaide and Free University of Brussels developed Cumulin, a new growth factor, that will allow eggs to be recovered earlier than in IVF. The eggs will be matured outside the womb, writes the ABC.

This alternative treatment may one day eliminate the need for drugs in infertility treatment. UNSW Associate Professor and one of the lead researchers of the study, Robert Gilchrist, said that the research has significantly improved the efficiency of IVM.

Thus, IVM will require treating the eggs in a laboratory instead of treating the woman by injecting large hormone doses for several weeks. IVM also reduces risks of medical complications especially in women with existing conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome.

The new improved technique resulted in better quality of eggs and also a 50 percent increase embryo numbers compared to the standard IVM process.

“What we’ve done is we’ve modelled a new protein which mimics the egg’s own unique protein that actually communicates with the cells that are supporting the egg during the maturation process,” head of the University of Adelaide’s Early Development Group and co-researcher, Associate Professor Jeremy Thompson, told

The new IVM method reportedly uses more than 90 per cent less hormones than standard IVF procedures. This may reduce costs by a third or a half. The risks associated with IVF treatments are annulled by the new IVM method.

The physical burden of IVF treatment forces numerous women to opt out. IVM on the other hand requires only one or two blood tests or trans-vaginal ultrasounds over a few days. Thompson believes that IVM is set to become teh go-to treatment for infertile women in future.

Cook Medical will soon move the research in the preclinical trial phase. Based on the results and approval by regulatory bodies, IVM may be made available to women in three to five years.