THE world's first baby born using a revolutionary in vitro fertilization technique is expected to be delivered in Scotland next month.
The Glasgow Centre For Reproductive Medicine, Scotland's largest independent fertility clinic, became the second in Europe to offer the test which can tell in 48 hours whether an embryo is likely to survive.
Now they say they expect to deliver the first baby using Early Embryo Viability Assessment (EEVA) which was introduced in December.
About one in six couples have difficulty conceiving and approximately 3.5% of all first births are presently as a result of IVF treatment in Scotland.
The centre says the technique is a step up from the time-lapse imaging process which scientists have claimed was the biggest fertility breakthrough for 35 years.
It is the first and only non- invasive IVF test clinically proven to help IVF teams determine which embryos have the best potential to grow to the blastocyst stage, a critical milestone in embryo development.
The technique involves taking thousands of photographs of developing embryos and pin- point those least likely to carry chromosomal abnormalities.
The Cardonald-based centre says EEVA is an improvement because computers analyse the embryo development, rather than a human. The embryo is left in the incubator for automated analysis using computer vision software.
The new technique as with the previous version, works by monitoring the speed of development – pinpointing the time at which embryos which reach critical stages, and discarding those who are too slow, which indicates that cells may be carrying missing chromosomes or carrying ones.
In most IVF labs, a developing embryo yet to be transferred to a womb will be checked up to six times over a five-day period.
In recent years, some clinics have used imaging technology to attempt to identify the most viable embryos, but with limited accuracy. The process used in Glasgow means snapshots can be taken every five minutes instead of 10 minutes, which it is believed will be even more accurate in pinpointing abnormalities.
Dr Marco Gaudoin, medical director at the Glasgow centre, said: "I say to patients it is definitely the most significant advance in the past five years. It is certainly a big advance in IVF.
"It was developed under research at Stanford University in the US but we will be the first in the world to have a baby, next month."
Some 70 people have signed up for the treatment since it was brought in at the Glasgow centre.