Research and Development
IVF treatment was originally made possible only after many years
of scientific research on sperm, eggs and embryos. Although
IVF success rates have increased slowly, they are still relatively
low throughout the world. It is vital that we continue
research to improve success rates and increase our knowledge of
early embryo development and abnormalities that can arise. At
Saint Mary's Hospital these studies are carried out with the
University of Manchester and other centres in the UK, with
government funding from the Medical Research Council, the
Department of Health, the European Union, the NIHR, and with the
support of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation
Trust and the Comprehensive Local Research Network.
We are currently involved in two clinical trials which you may
be invited to take part in. Please ask our research nurses
for further details.
1) TABLET: a study of the causes of
miscarriage and lack of implantation in IVF.
HABSelect: a method for selection of sperm for use in ICSI.
We may ask you during your IVF or ICSI cycle to donate to
research any abnormal eggs or embryos which canot be used in your
For comparison, it is also extremely important that we
study normal embryos. These can only be obtained from frozen
embryos which are not wanted for treatment and would otherwise have
to be left to perish.
If you have frozen embryos still in storage but no longer
wish to use them for your own treatment, you have the opportunity
to donate them to another couple for their treatment. If you
do not wish to do this, we would like to ask you to donate them to
our IVF research programme.
All embryos donated for research are used in the following
- To study why embryos develop abnormally in culture after
fertilisation. We are interested in learning how and why some
cells in the embryo die or become fragmented during development and
how some cells become different to one another.
- To test different culture solutions used for embryo growth and
development in the laboratory. We would like to be able to
improve culture solutions and allow embryos to develop for longer,
perhaps replacing them on day 5 or 6.
- To test new ways and new equipment for culturing embryos to
make sure that they are safe before they are used for routine
- To improve our knowledge of the way early embryos develop and
implant in the wall of the womb. This may help to tell us why
only 1 or 2 of every 10 embryos replaced is able to implant and
form a baby.
- To make embryonic stem cells. Each embryo is cultured for
a few days in the incubator or microchamber, and then prepared for
research by placing it in a solution that fixes the cells in
position, or breaks them open to release their contents, allowing
us to study them closely for other studies. For some studies
we will separate the embryo into single cells before studying
This research is strictly controlled by the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). It is not
permitted to culture human embryos for more than 14 days, to carry
out work on cloning, or to genetically alter embryos in any
way. Embryos donated for research will not be used in the
treatment of other couples.
Research in Reproductive Medicine
- To increase understanding of IVF/ICSI and embryo
- To improve the IVF/ICSI treatment process.
- To make stem cells for future treatment of diseases
- Only sperm, eggs or embryos which are surplus to your treatment
needs and would otherwise be discarded are utilised for
- Research is only undertaken with your written consent.
- All research activity in this Unit is licensed by the HFEA
(Licence number R0026 and R0171; Person Responsible - Professor
For any research enquiries please contact our Research Nurse
(Tel: 0161 276 3296)
For further information:
Embryology Research: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/daniel.brison/research
Embryonic stem cell research: http://www.nwescc.manchester.ac.uk