Cytoplasmic Transfer

To understand this procedure, you should know a little about cytoplasm. Cytoplasm is the liquid portion of the egg that surrounds the central nucleus. (Is this bringing back thoughts of high school biology?) It may help to think of a regular chicken egg. For example, the yellow yolk would be the nucleus, and the white liquid part that surrounds it is the cytoplasm. In human eggs, the nucleus is also the center part of the egg and contains the genetic material, DNA. The surrounding cytoplasm functions to supply the rest of the egg with nutrition and energy.

Women who have experienced several IVF cycle failures because of poor embryo development may have had these losses because of defective cytoplasm. In most cases, receiving an egg from a donor usually becomes the next step. Although egg donation is a viable option, many women are reluctant because the baby is genetically linked to the donor and not to them.

Cytoplasmic transfer is an experimental laboratory technique that injects the cytoplasm from a healthy donor egg into your recipient egg. Because the egg still has your nucleus and DNA, the resulting baby will, too. Cytoplasmic transfer offers an alternative to egg donation but is actually better because the baby is genetically linked to only you and your male partner.

As of this writing, cytoplasmic transfer is banned in the United States because the FDA is requiring further clinical studies. The FDA may eventually approve the procedure, but it will likely take many years of trials and evaluations. In the mean time, couples desiring the procedure can have it performed outside of the United States. Among the various countries that offer cytoplasmic transfer are Israel, Lebanon, and Taiwan.

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