Belgian doctors have developed a low-cost version of test-tube baby technology for use in developing countries, where sophisticated Western systems are unaffordable for most couples.
The researchers said on Monday their simplified process costs around 200 euros ($260) per cycle of treatment and delivered results that were not much different to those seen with conventional in-vitro fertilization (IVF) program.
The price is just 10 to 15 percent of the current cost of Western-style IVF and suggests infertility care could one day become universally accessible, Elke Klerkx from the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology told a medical meeting.
“Infertility care is probably the most neglected healthcare problem of developing countries, affecting more than 2 million couples according to the WHO (World Health Organization),” Klerkx said.
In order to slash the price, Klerkx and her colleagues used an embryo culture method that removes the need for much of the expensive laboratory equipment found in European or North American IVF clinics.
“Our initial results are proof of principle that a simplified culture system designed for developing countries can offer affordable and successful opportunities for infertility treatment where IVF is the only solution,” said Klerkx. “This is a major step towards universal fertility care.”