Recent achievements in infertility treatment in Vietnam have not only given fresh hope to childless couples, but also earned the country international recognition, according to local experts.
In the last week of December, the Hanoi-based Military Hospital's Embryo Technology Center announced its success in culturing spermatids, saying that a baby had been born and six were expected to be born this year using the method.
Although the success rate now stands at 10 percent, it is notable that Vietnam is the first country in Asia to succeed in developing the technique, Vietnam News recently quoted Quan Hoang Lam - head of the center as saying.
Initiated by Doctor Tesarik J. from Turkey in 2001, the new technique helps men who cannot produce sperms.
Men can have their spermatids the cells that become spermatozoon (sperms) grown into sperms in culture medium within 24 hours and then injected into their wives' ovum for fertilization.
Leading IVM nation
"Vietnam is one of the five countries, including Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Italy, which are leading in developing in vitro maturation (IVM)," Ho Chi Minh City Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Association (HOSREM) General Secretary Dr. Ho Manh Tuong told Lao Dong in a recent interview.
Since the first IVM baby was born in 2007, it is estimated that Vietnam has introduced 4 to 5 percent of some 500 IVM babies that are delivered internationally, he says.
"The number of IVM babies in Vietnam has increased sharply thanks to the rather high success rate," Tuong adds.
Luu Ngoc Mai, the first-ever baby in Vietnam born from fertilization with cultured spermatids at the Hanoi-based Military Hospital's Embryo Technology Center, and Doctor Quan Hoang Lam - head of the center
According to HORSEM statistics, around 50 pregnancies so far have been achieved using IVM, including more than 10 cases of twins.
Following the success of the Vietnamese program, local scientists and experts have been invited to report their IVM application at international conferences, including the first European IVM meeting held in Monza, Italy, last month, Tuong says.
The association has also been invited to take part in a multi-center study on
IVM babies in the world headed by Professor R. Cheng Chian and Professor Seang Lintan of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, he says.
During IVM, immature eggs, or oocytes, are retrieved from the ovary, then matured in the laboratory before being fertilized and implanted in the womb.
The method almost halves the cost of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and has a shorter time of 10 days instead of four weeks.
Moreover, it does not imply a potentially fatal side-effect of injections given to stimulate egg production prior to retrieval, like the IVF. The side-effect, which is very rare, is known as the Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.
While new achievements are being recorded and newer techniques applied, Vietnam already has a solid base in IVF development, experts say.
The country marked its first achievement in infertility treatment when three babies were born in 1998 using the IVF technology.
Over the past 10 years, 10 IVF centers have been established nationwide and these have introduced nearly 5,000 IVF babies in Vietnam, Tuong told the Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper recently.
Since 2004, Vietnam has also conducted IVF courses for foreign students from countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar.
Source: Lao Dong, SGGP