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Liverpool Women's becomes first in Europe to offer patients new breakthrough IVF aid

The Hewitt Fertility Centre at Liverpool Women's Hospital has become the first infertility clinic in the world to offer patients the Early Embryo Viability Assessment (Eeva) Test which has been described as the biggest breakthrough in IVF (in vitro fertilisation) in the last ten years.

It is hoped it will greatly improve the success rate of IVF at the centre which is the largest NHS IVF Clinic in the country and one of the largest in Europe. Having this technology will mean the centre's experts can put the strongest embryos back into patients' wombs to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Its staff of over 85 specialist doctors, embryologists and andrologists, fertility nurses and counsellors provide over 2500 cycles of treatment per year ranging from the most basic diagnosis through to the latest cutting-edge technologies.

The Eeva test is developed and marketed by Auxogyn, Inc., a company focused on revolutionising the field of reproductive health. Eeva is designed to improve IVF outcomes by providing clinicians and patients with information that will enable them to predict with 85 per cent accuracy whether an embryo is likely to lead to a viable pregnancy. It uses intelligent computer vision software to measure key scientifically and clinically-validated cell-division parameters from video images. It predicts with high accuracy at the cleavage stage which embryos are likely to grow to the blast cyst stage, a critical milestone in embryo development.

Professor Charles Kingsland, lead consultant at the Hewitt Fertility Centre and consultant gynaecologist at Liverpool Women's, said: "We are proud to be the first clinic in the world to offer the Eeva Test, giving our patients the best chance of a successful embryo implantation. I believe it is the biggest breakthrough in IVF in the last 10 years.

"At the Hewitt Centre, we are committed to doing everything we can, including adopting breakthrough technologies, to improve embryo selection in order to increase a patient's success of pregnancy while reducing the risks associated with multiple births. By using Eeva, we will be able to help our patients make more informed personal decisions and provide them with the best care possible."

As he explained, until quite recently, scientific staff had to use a microscope to examine embryos once a day, taking them out of their incubators to do so. Last year, the Hewitt Centre made a significant breakthrough by introducing the embryoscope which took a series of pictures every 20 minutes of the way the embryo was developing. But it still needed humans to decide which embryo was best for implant. Now Eeva has been developed in the past year which monitors these pictures every five minutes and is able to choose the strongest embryos for fertility experts.

"You can never predict whether someone will have a healthy baby but what it can do is predict with 85 pc accuracy which embryo is likely to result in pregnancy without touching it. The computer does it all for you and you get a green light or a red light."

The £800 test is available privately or on the NHS for patients who are willing to pay for it. The safety and efficacy of Eeva were validated in a prospective, multi-centre, 160-patient clinical trials, results of which were present in July this year at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) Annual Meeting in Turkey.

Before it can be offered to NHS patients en masse, the equipment will have to go through a period of evaluation.

The Hewitt Fertility Centre prides itself on its evidence-based approach to fertility treatment and achieves excellent outcomes, often in excess of national averages. For example, in the last twelve months, patients under the age of 35 having a single embryo transferred after IVF treatment stood a 47 per cent chance of achieving an ongoing pregnancy.

Clare Lewis-Jones of Infertility Network UK, said: "The availability of Eeva in the UK is great news for women and couples undergoing IVF. This new test which has been studied in a large clinical trial and approved by a regulatory agency, is a safe and effective new option for identifying embryos for transfer."

Infertility affects one in seven couples or 3.5million people in the UK, many of whom try to conceive through IVF. The demand for assisted reproduction tools and procedures is growing by 5.9 per cent per year in the UK, due to higher infertility rates caused by an increasing maternal age as more women choose to start families later in life.

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