IVF specialist, Dr. Mari Mitrani shares how technology is making an impact.

Talk us through your background.

I’m a physician scientist with extensive expertise in biological medicine and regenerative approaches to help improve my patients’ quality of life. I am currently the Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Gattaca Genomics, the most advanced and complete preimplantation genetic testing available for embryos. Previously, I Co-founded Organicell Regenerative Medicine, as well as the American Stem Cell & Anti-Aging Center, a pioneer in Autologous Stem Cell therapy center in South America. I had been recognised as one of the ‘Top 100 Healthcare Leaders’ by IFAH for the COVID-19 therapeutic work, and most recently recognized for “Scientific Excellence” by the Academia Mundial de Terapia Neural Huneke for my contribution to science.

Can you expand on what IVF is?

Couples that are navigating through the fertility process through IVF (in vitro fertilization) have an option now to test the genetic count of those fertilised embryos. Just a few cells are taken from the embryo and sent to our state-of-the-art laboratory to analyse the gene components of those cells through Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). A final report is sent to the patients IVF doctor and the Genetic Counselor as well.

Are there any specific advancements and techniques that have improved success rates?

The IVF world has been advancing every year, thanks to hormone therapy to mature multiple eggs, quality/quantity control, embryo monitoring after fertilisation can now be done in a separate environment like a time-lapse embryo imaging system which allows the embryos to be kept in a control environment without disturbing them while the Embryologist receives high-definition images multiple times a day. Genetic testing for these embryos that are ready for implantation has also advanced to allow the experts have more in-depth information about the genetic component and therefore allow the reproductive physician to decide which embryos to implant first. Furthermore, breakthroughs in cryopreservation techniques, like vitrification, have enhanced the preservation and storage of embryos and eggs, offering greater flexibility and success rates for patients.

In your opinion, what are some of the most exciting developments or future possibilities in the IVF space.

In my field, preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) techniques, such as PGT-A for aneuploidy screening and PGT-M for single gene disorders, has enabled more detailed information for embryo selection. This year, we are launching the next frontier of genetic analysis as we will be able to offer Whole Genome Sequencing, which will allow us to understand in-depth into the embryo’s genetic health. This will be very valuable for identifying many more risks of disease.

“Breakthroughs in cryopreservation techniques, like vitrification offer greater flexibility and success rates for patients.”

As an advocate for fertility preservation, what options are available for individuals or couples who wish to preserve their fertility for the future?

We have clear statistical data referring to maternal age and how it impacts the production of healthy eggs. Understanding that fertility and infertility is so multi-factorial, the one thing we really know is how to act in this specific characteristic. Now we know that after 35 years, women’s egg quality starts deteriorating rapidly year by year, and as a woman who cheers on other women to always pursue their dreams, I would say to always keep this cut-off time in the back of your mind. The possibility of freezing healthy eggs or embryos has a better impact for the future when couples are ready to start their family. Unfortunately, many couples or females wait after this age to start their fertility journey and the doctors and science can only do so much. This is the one thing I would love to keep educating women all over the world about, your chances and decision of having a family in the future is possible if you act early on.

Dr. Mari Mitrani

Dr. Mari Mitrani

Can you share any ongoing research or innovative techniques that you are currently involved in or excited about in the field of fertility treatment?

Gattaca Whole Genome Sequencing is an embryonic genetic screening which will allow us to understand more in dept the embryos genetic health, this will be valuable for identifying disease risks and therefore a future medical treatment or intervention, if needed. Given the diverse background of our staff, we are utilising artificial intelligence to further analyse and interpret data obtained through genetic testing and further dive on the morphology from time-lapse embryo machines.

Are more residents opting for IVF treatments in the Middle East?

An executive insight report by L.E.K. Consulting shows that the UAE has the highest infertility rates in APAC (Asia-Pacific) and the Middle East, mainly caused by the high prevalence of diabetes (19 percent as compared to 7percent in the U.K. and 11 percent in the U.S.) and vitamin D deficiency (70 percent as compared to 20 percent in the U.K. and 42percent in the U.S.).

What is Genetic Screening and how has this impacted the future of IVF?

ll be opting for IVF treatments to further their chances according to the data that has already been recorded. Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) is a genetic screening done in fertilized embryos before they are selected for implantation. PGT is advancing and innovating the fertility space, due to its added value on reporting Aneuploidy, which is the abnormal count of genes present in the embryo which explain a higher rate of miscarriages. NGS is allowing us to read valuable characteristics of embryotic genetic in which we are able to predict and or diagnose genetic disorders and diseases beforehand.

This is ‘The Tech Issue’ – how has technology improved your daily life?

I think 2024 is a great year for Tech. I’m able to open my car, garage door, pay for my groceries and more just from my phone! Who would’ve thought that this was possible? I can be in a conference call as I drive my electric car to pick up my daughter from her practice. I’m maximizing my productivity as an entrepreneur and excelling at motherhood, keeping track of my daily tasks and with new apps I can ensure I know in which part of my monthly cycle I am on. Last year, we saw women at the pinnacle of their careers and advancing the field in music, films, science, and aerospace, thanks to technology I have no doubt we will keep excelling this year.

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Images: Supplied & Feature Image: Instagram @hrushachemyan