The man who discovered ICSI takes a look at assisted reproduction today

Fertility preservation and the transfer of one or two embryos were some of the issues discussed during his stay in Spain

 paul devroey

In the first week of October, the man who discovered the Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, also known as ICSI, visited Spain. Paul Devroey, the director of the Reproductive Medicine Centre in Brussels, who is considered to be the father of ICSI, is today a key figure in the history of assisted reproduction. Devroey’s research marked a milestone for male infertility; in 1991, he discovered what is known today as the Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which, in short, consists of selecting a single sperm to enable egg fertilisation. In his own words, ‘using the right sperm at the right time’.

During his stay in Spain, many aspects of fertility in society today were discussed, including maternity at an advanced age. Devroey stated that the only viable option to counterbalance the effects of changes that have occurred in the 21st century is to preserve female fertility early.

Currently, multiple research studies are being conducted to facilitate pregnancy in women over the age of forty, through using the regenerative qualities of stem cells. However, these studies have not yet provided conclusive evidence, which means that the only option available is freezing eggs at a young age.

Devroey appealed to the scientific community to raise awareness and provide young people with more information. He also appealed to doctors to attempt to raise the rates of people undergoing fertility preservation.

Another issue voiced during his visit was the transfer of one single embryo, something that has been discussed several times over recent months by the Spanish assisted reproduction scientific community. Devroey was adamant in his support of this practice, to prevent multiple pregnancies and the related risks involved. However, he highlighted the slow process of changing people’s mentalities and was not overly optimistic that this practice would become commonplace.

Lastly, an initiative was discussed that ProcreaTec has been looking into for some time: improving the procedure by preventing risks associated with ovarian hyper stimulation. Using a treatment with a more fragmented process can often increase its effectiveness. This would mean first fertilising the egg to produce the embryo, which is then vitrified. At a later date, the embryo is then transferred to the woman when the endometrium is in the right conditions. This would lengthen the process by two months but would lead to better results.

Always at the forefront of new scientific advances, ProcreaTec implements protocols similar to those described by Devroey. Aiming to provide those people that come to our centre with excellent professional assistance, our clinical team is under constant evaluation to ensure that people with fertility problems receive exclusive treatment, tailored to their particular medical condition.

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