Pill helps childless couples conceive by increasing chance of fertilised egg implanting in the womb

Colin Fernandez
Daily Mail
The new pill increased the chance of a live birth by 6.9 per cent.
The new pill increased the chance of a live birth by 6.9 per cent. Credit: Natalya Lys - stock.adobe.com

A pill for couples struggling to conceive with IVF has been found to increase the chances of pregnancy.

In clinical trials, it was found to raise the likelihood of the fertilised egg implanting in the womb.

While the pill requires further trials and regulatory approval before it could become available, scientists said the results were “very good news’ for childless couples.

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With a cycle of IVF costing from AUD$10,000-$20,000 privately, reducing the number of cycles could mean more couples achieving their dream of parenthood.

The study looked at women under 40 using IVF or ICSI – intracytoplasmic sperm injection, a similar technique to IVF where a single sperm is injected into an egg before it is implanted.

The new pill increased the chance of a live birth by 6.9 per cent – 42.6 per cent of the women in the trial gave birth, compared with 35.7 per cent who took a placebo.

The pill was unveiled at the annual conference of the European Society for Human Reproduction (ESHRE) in Amsterdam.

Donor eggs were used to test the pill – called OXO-001 – as there is thought to be less variation in the quality of donor eggs compared with women’s own eggs.

Spanish biotech company Oxolife is now planning a larger study in women using their own eggs.

Most fertility treatment uses a woman’s own eggs.

In 2019, 86 per cent of IVF cycles used a woman’s own eggs and her partner’s sperm, according to the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority.

The new pill is non-hormonal and acts on the womb lining, to help the embryo ‘invade’ it, according to Oxolife.

The chair of ESHRE, Professor Dr Karen Sermon, who was not involved in the research, said: “A jump of nearly seven percentage points is very good news for our patients, and hopefully this can be confirmed in larger patient groups.”

Agnes Arbat, chief executive officer of Oxolife, said: “Most rounds of IVF or ICSI still end in failure – many because a viable embryo does not implant. A simple- to-take pill that materially improves the chance of success would therefore be of huge benefit to those who want a baby.”

“This proof-of-concept phase 2 study shows that hope is now a step closer.”

She added: “This study was purposefully designed to include only women who used donor eggs so it could single out the true effect of OXO-001 on the endometrium.

“However, we believe OXO-001 has the potential to work equally well in those using their own eggs, and we are already planning a pivotal phase three clinical trial.”

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