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Pacific Reproductive Center Adopts BlueGnome Arrays for Preimplantation Genetic Screening


This story was originally posted on May 13.

By Justin Petrone

Pacific Reproductive Center, a Southern California fertility medical practice, said this week that it will now use array comparative genomic hybridization to screen embryos prior to implantation during in vitro fertilization cycles.

The firm said in a statement the use of array-CGH will lead to a "reduction in treatment costs, less anxiety due to a shortened waiting period, and a better chance of a successful pregnancy" for its patients.

Rifaat Salem, PRC's medical director, told BioArray News this week that the center is now performing PGS using BlueGnome's 24sure arrays.

Cambridge, UK-based BlueGnome launched the research-use-only product, which uses a bacterial artificial chromosome array and software to screen for abnormal or aneuploid chromosomes, two years ago (BAN 9/8/2009).

Founded in 1996, Los Angeles-based PRC maintains four clinics in Southern California. Salem said that PRC has been using fluorescence in situ hybridization to screen embryos during IVF cycles, but opted to add array-CGH for several reasons.

"First of all, in-house array-CGH enables us to screen all 24 chromosomes of an embryo before transfer to avoid transferring chromosomally abnormal embryos and to minimize the chances of miscarriage and/or abnormal birth defects," Salem said.

In this way, array-CGH is "more reliable and accurate than FISH," said Salem. "We have learnt, from our eight years' experiences with an in-house FISH program, that aneuploidy screening by FISH is less reliable due to a lack of comprehensive chromosome testing and poor reliability of the technique itself," he said.

A second benefit of adopting array-CGH is that PRC no longer needs to freeze the embryos prior to screening them during a cycle. "With in-house array-CGH, we can perform biopsy on [the embryo at the] blastocyst stage and do embryo transfer in the fresh cycle to avoid potential damage of embryos and extra cost associated with cryopreservation of the embryos," said Salem.

By offering CGH in house, Salem hopes that PRC will be able to "select chromosomally normal blastocysts for transfer to increase implantation rate while reducing multiple pregnancies." The center's data shows that trophectoderm cells derived from blastocyst biopsy are "more suitable for array-CGH screening of all 24 chromosomes as compared to the blastomeres of cleavage-stage embryos," Salem said.

First in the Nation?

PRC said it is the first US IVF center to offer array CGH in its own lab.

BioArray News could neither confirm nor refute PRC's claim. While Livingston, NJ-based Reprogenetics also offers screening of embryos using BlueGnome arrays, Salem pointed out that PRC is an IVF clinic while Reprogenetics is an independent reference laboratory.

BlueGnome CEO Nick Haan told BioArray News this week that, other than PRC, he is aware of no other IVF clinic in the US that has brought array-CGH into its own lab.

Salem said he was unsure if other US IVF clinics will follow PRC and bring array-CGH in house. "We do believe that our patients are going to benefit from our in-house array-CGH program to realize their dream of having a healthy baby," he said, "although we don’t know whether the other centers will follow or not."

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioArray News? Contact the editor at jpetrone [at] genomeweb [.] com.