Scientific Directors Report

Over the past 12 months the genetic screening program at Monash IVF Group has expanded rapidly, with the introduction of new technologies and an increase in patient volumes.

Our Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) program has become an increasingly popular treatment option with patients. The PGS program involves screening IVF embryos for chromosome abnormalities associated with implantation failure, miscarriage or abnormalities at birth (eg: Down syndrome).

Genetic screening is a reproductive option available to couples at risk of passing a chromosome abnormality or single gene disorder on to their child. Genetic screening involves screening IVF generated embryos for genetic conditions prior to embryo transfer, with only unaffected embryos transferred to the uterus. This testing helps ensure the embryo that is selected for transfer has the best possible chance of developing into a healthy baby.

Only embryos which are found to have the correct number of chromosomes – and therefore the greatest potential to result in a healthy live birth – are selected for transfer. Research trials have demonstrated this technology has the capacity to significantly improve clinical outcomes for patients. While initially targeted at patients older than 36 or patients with recurrent IVF failure or miscarriage, many of our IVF doctors are now referring all patients for genetic screening irrespective of age or reproductive history. Today, one in five patients is availing themselves of this cutting-edge screening technology.

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Monash IVF Group has offered genetic screening since 1994 and is one of the few centres in Australia that specialises in this area of reproductive medicine. Our highly specialised in-house genetics team is responsible for providing genetic screening services not only to our own patients, but also to patients undergoing IVF cycles at numerous external IVF clinics throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Significant milestones have also been achieved in our Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) program, with our genetic scientists being the first in the world (outside the beta test sites) to be trained in a new PGD technology called Karyomapping.

Karyomapping is suitable for patients at risk of passing a single gene disorder (eg: Cystic Fibrosis) on to their child, and is used to distinguish between affected and unaffected embryos. Only embryos which are found to be unaffected for the condition of interest are selected for transfer to the uterus.

Karyomapping offers several significant benefits over previous PGD technologies, including a significantly reduced turnaround time for test development/validation, as well as the capacity to detect some chromosome abnormalities associated with implantation failure, miscarriage, or abnormalities at birth.

Alongside the clinical genetics program, our genetic scientists have been involved in numerous research studies aimed at improving our existing genetics program. Our scientists have also been actively involved in national and international conferences, with the aim of ensuring that Monash IVF Group continues to offer the highest quality of care to our patients.

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Ms Jayne Mullen.
Acting Scientific Director Victoria
Dr Hassan Bakos.
Scientific Director New South Wales
Dr Deirdre Zander-Fox.
Regional Scientific Director
for Monash IVF Group