health

Conference talks up new potential infertility treatment

Artificial gametogenesis could provide couples with new method of conceiving children

19:04 October 9, 2017
Prof. Evelyn Telfer

Abu Dhabi: Doctors from around the world converged in Abu Dhabi on Monday to discuss the potential for a new groundbreaking medical treatment for infertile couples through a process called artificial gametogenesis.

Organised by the Ministry of Interior, the First World Congress in Artificial Gametogenesis brought together some of the foremost researchers on the subject to present their findings on the viability of using such treatment in the future. Attendees also included Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

At present, couples that are unable to have children can access a range of assisted reproduction techniques to help them, with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) being one of the most common medical treatments that is used. Despite its success, IVF has its limitations when it comes men who have no sperm count, or women who have no eggs, leaving doctors largely unable to help couples in such circumstances.

That’s where artificial gametogenesis comes in — which sees doctors attempting to produce artificial sperm and eggs in a laboratory from a person’s cells.

“Artificial gametogenesis is a technique that is starting to be developed, and its aim is to artificially create sperm and eggs. There are a lot of treatments available for infertility, but for all of these treatments we need the gametes — the matured sperm and eggs — in order to succeed, but what happens when a person doesn’t have eggs or sperm,” said Dr Braulio Peramo, medical director at Al Ain Fertility Centre.

“For such cases we cannot offer any solutions at the moment, so that is why we are looking at artificial gametogenesis, which will allow us to create sperms and eggs for those patients and to give them the hope to be able to have children,” he added.

According to Dr Peramo, scientists are still figuring out the process of creating such sperms and eggs.

“This is a huge project, we are talking several years before possibly having it clinically available. That is why we have also organised this major conference, bringing the best researchers involved in this field to work together and to share their studies, so that one day this can become a reality,” he said.

“If this form of treatment does turn out to be a success, and we can prove the safety and the efficiency of the technique for human use, then it will definitely be one of the major medical breakthroughs and achievements of our time,” he added.

IVF treatment in the UAE

Speaking on IVF treatment in the UAE, Dr Palermo said that such treatment has been growing over recent years, with 12,000 cases of IVF treatment last year in the UAE.

“There was around 12,000 IVF cycles carried out in the UAE last year, at our clinic alone we had around 800 IVF treatments,” he said. Dr Peramo also spoke on the growing acceptance of using IVF treatment in the UAE.

“At the end of the day a couple wants to have a baby, and so when they see other people using IVF treatments successfully, and they read the newspapers, and watch the television to see that using IVF treatments is perfectly normal, they decide to go for it themselves because they understand it is a solution to their problem,” he said.

“IVF treatments have been highly developed in the UAE, we have the resources and technologies which are comparable and in many times even better than in the US and Europe, in many cases

What is artificial gametogenesis?

The process of using a person’s cells to produce gametes (mature sperm or egg) in a laboratory environment. The technique is still new and being developed by scientists as a potential medical treatment for infertility.