The first babies have now been born in the UK using a new technique pioneered at Oxford University to select the best embryos for IVF.
The advance could bring hope to many British couples struggling to have a child and going through many cycles of IVF treatment.
George and Helen Ashton from Gloucestershire are thought to be the first couple to have babies in the UK after using a technique called microarray CGH with IVF embryos five days after fertilisation.
The technique allows the embryos to be checked for the right number of chromosomes before implantation in an IVF treatment, lessening the chance of miscarriage or Down’s syndrome.
The Ashtons had twins last November following treatment at the Oxford Fertility Unit, an independent IVF clinic which maintains strong research partnerships with the University. The boys, Alex and Louis, are now 11 weeks old.
The strategy of applying microarray CGH, or comparative genomic hybridisation, to five-day-old embryos, or ‘blastocysts’, was developed by Dr Dagan Wells and Dr Elpida Fragouli at the University of Oxford, with funding from the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre and in collaboration with partners in the health services and industry.