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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

World-first in IVF: Merging AI and genomics to optimise treatment response for Australians

Health Industry Hub | December 11, 2023 |

Pharma News: A world-first Australian IVF study exploring genome sequencing has garnered enthusiastic reception from its collaborative research partners. Securing a $3 million grant from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) over the course of four years, the team has embarked on an unprecedented journey in IVF research.

The collaboration between Virtus Health, healthtech startup 23Strands and Monash University seeks to explore how comprehensive genome sequencing could significantly enhance patient outcomes in IVF treatments.

Spearheading this ambitious endeavour, James Pyne, CEO of Virtus Health, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “The impact of this grant has huge potential to benefit all IVF patients and is a significant step forward for IVF research and innovation. Having a better understanding of a patient’s genomic sequencing can help clinicians deliver improved fertility insights, treatments, and personalised medicine, and ultimately better success rates.”

Leading the charge as the study’s principal investigator, Professor Beverley Vollenhoven from Monash University underscored the transformative potential of this research.

“The groundbreaking collaboration of integrating genomics, artificial intelligence, and clinical care aspires to set a new global standard to positively improve women’s responses to IVF medications,” Professor Vollenhoven stated.

Government considers regulation overhaul in genetic testing amid discrimination concerns

The MRFF grant will enable the research team to expand on their preliminary findings and embark on a four-year randomised control trial (RCT). At the heart of this study lies the ambition to harness genetic insights to tailor IVF treatments. The researchers aim to develop an AI-driven tool that can deliver more precise dosages of medications, thereby augmenting IVF success rates. Recent pilot studies conducted by Virtus Health and 23Strands have unveiled the significant impact of genetic variations on individual responses to ovarian stimulation medicines.

Mark Grosser, co-founder, and CEO of 23Strands, highlighted “This world-first project is special because we will be using new ways to process information about IVF treatments. 23Strands brings innovation that combines data from scientific research, medical records and genetics to deliver tailored personalised medical reports for women. Our world-leading partners will help ensure that this is done in an ethical, safe and effective way.”

A/Prof Vinayak Smith, Head of New Ventures at Virtus Health, highlighted the pivotal role of technology in reshaping fertility treatments. He said “Virtus Health was the first to develop artificial intelligent embryo selection software. With this new study, we aim to be the first IVF service provider in Australia to offer whole-genome sequencing and AI to augment reproductive decision making and help people achieve their dream of starting a family.”

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