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Infertile patients cannot afford to wait for treatment while their eggs get older.

Dr. Sherman Silber, Infertility Center of St. Louis, is offering free video consultations for patients who need to plan now for their treatment while stay-at-home orders are in place. He is talking to and evaluating patients in their home to comply with social distancing measures.

Dr. Silber is discovering that patients actually prefer this method of telemedicine consultation over the conventional office visit. Patients have conveyed that “it is so much more convenient and less stressful” to have a free telemedicine personal consultation than to take a day off from work to travel to the doctor’s office and sit with other nervous patients in the waiting room.

The COVID-19 pandemic is thus changing much of the way we will do things in the future, and for the better. “Our patients are surprisingly much happier with this approach. Of course, at some point we need to perform hands on treatment. But with this new manner of seeing patients, we can come to the right diagnosis and treatment plan for most patients more efficiently, quickly, and painlessly, with no loss of personal one-on-one communication.” This is a very welcome new era of telemedicine that has been forced on us by the current difficult times.

Live Birth Derived From Oocyte Spindle Transfer To Prevent Mitochondrial Disease

By: John Zhang, Hui Liu, Shiyu Luo, Zhuo Lu, Alejandro Chávez-Badiola, Zitao Liu, Mingxue Yang, Zaher Merhi, Sherman J Silber, Santiago Munné, Michalis Konstandinidis, Dagan Wells, Taosheng Huang

January 31, 2017

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Introduction

Mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are maternally inherited and can cause fatal or debilitating mitochondrial disorders. The severity of clinical symptoms is often associated with the level of mtDNA mutation load or degree of heteroplasmy. Current clinical options to prevent transmission of mtDNA mutations to offspring are limited. Experimental spindle transfer in metaphase II oocytes, also called mitochondrial replacement therapy, is a novel technology for preventing mtDNA transmission from oocytes to pre-implantation embryos. Here, we report a female carrier of Leigh syndrome (mtDNA mutation 8993T > G), with a long history of multiple undiagnosed pregnancy losses and deaths of offspring as a result of this disease, who underwent IVF after reconstitution of her oocytes by spindle transfer into the cytoplasm of enucleated donor oocytes. A male euploid blastocyst was obtained from the reconstituted oocytes, which had only a 5.7% mtDNA mutation load. Transfer of the embryo resulted in a pregnancy with delivery of a boy with neonatal mtDNA mutation load of 2.36–9.23% in his tested tissues. The boy is currently healthy at 7 months of age, although long-term follow-up of the child’s longitudinal development remains crucial.

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spindle transfer

Spindle transfer from the patient’s metaphase II oocyte into the cytoplasm of a donor oocyte. (A) The patient’s oocyte immobilized by a holding pipette and approached by a transfer pipette; (B) suction of spindle into biopsy pipette; (C) spindle removed from the patient’s oocyte; (D) transfer of the removed spindle into the perivitelline space of the enucleated donor oocyte.


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