CJN- Small Wonders in the news!



The money will pay for one IVF treatment cycle per patient
The money will pay for one IVF treatment cycle per patient

As of last month, Ontario expanded its in vitro fertilization (IVF) funding to help families struggling financially with infertility, and the executive director of a non-profit that serves infertile Jewish couples said she expects to be a lot busier because of this new development.

“We are thrilled with this new initiative. We think it’s great,” said Denise Levin executive director ofSmall Wonders, which helps couples financially, emotionally, medically and halachically.

The province will fund one IVF cycle per eligible patient through an annual $50-million investment. This includes one egg retrieval, which may yield multiple eggs and result in multiple embryos.

Until now, Ontario only provided funding to women with blocked fallopian tubes.

Levin explained that funding one complete round means that “if they retrieve 10 eggs and those 10 eggs turn into 10 embryos and you want to have one of those embryos implanted, you can come back 10 times each time transferring one embryo until you’ve exhausted them, and the government will cover that complete cycle.”

One cycle of IVF costs about $10,000, with drugs and other associated costs adding thousands of dollars more to the cost.

“The cost of medication for IVF can range from $4,000 to $8,000,” Levin said.

“What is not funded is the storage of embryos, the pre-genetic screening, egg freezing fee, which is huge – it’s $7,000. That is something for a person who wants to save their eggs because they are getting older and they’re not in a relationship and don’t expect to be pregnant soon.”

Levin said some of the “wrinkles” the government still has to work through has to do with how they will address wait lists.

The government has allocated the IVF funding to about 50 clinics throughout the province, she said.

One of the things that’s unclear about the waiting lists is what happens to a potential patient who’s called by a clinic to undergo treatment, but declines “because I just took a new job and I can’t afford to take off six months,” Levin said.

“At some clinics, I’d go back to the bottom of the list… What happens to me? Do I have to wait for 200 people ahead of me? Those are wrinkles that need to be worked out. People have extenuating circumstances and can’t drop their whole lives to do this,” she said.

“Some clinics are using the lottery system… Some are going one by one down the waiting list and some are saying, ‘We understand that you have issues, and life happens, so call us back in a few months when you’re ready to do this, and in the meantime, we’re going to take the next person.’ Clinics are making their own rules, and people should be aware when picking a clinic and the clinic should be transparent about how the IVF funding works.”

Levin said when it comes to the new government funding, her staff will continue to help Jewish couples grow their families and provide financial support.

“We expect to be busier in 2016. We will still provide additional services in terms of the emotional support, which is a huge component. We still will provide financial support to qualifying Jewish couples, and we will still continue to provide halachic support,” Levin said.

“We are going to make sure everybody benefits, especially our couples, although we have no control over getting our couples to the top of any list. We just want to make sure that the people who want free IVF are seeing the right doctors, and we want to help them there.”

She said Small Wonders receives daily updates on the new IVF initiative and will provide its clients with the most up-to-date information about how to navigate the often overwhelming world of infertility.

Spermbots- CBS News

“Spermbots”: Scientists design tiny motor to help sperm swim


Could “spermbots” someday revolutionize infertility treatments? A German research team has developed tiny motors that can make sperm better swimmers as they make their way to an egg. The team from the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences at IFW Dresden in Germany recently published their research in the journal Nano Letters.

The so-called spermbots basically consist of a tiny micromotor, a spiraled piece of metal that wraps around the tail of a sperm and serves as an “on-board power supply,” the researchers say.This helps the sperm swim swiftly to the egg, and as the sperm makes contact for fertilization, the motor slips off. These microscopic robotic motors were inspired by their natural counterparts, the flagella and cilia that are used for the propulsion of living microorganisms, according to the paper.

This project was originally conceived about two years ago, with the team conducting experiments in the lab with actual oocytes, or a female gametocyte — a germ cell that is involved in reproduction, Oliver Schmidt, the institute’s director, explained in an email to CBS News.

But so far, there have been no human trials with this nanotechnology. The researchers say this is not feasible yet.

“Before we can think of human trials, the next step would first be to actually achieve successful fertilization in our labs with the current setup,” Schmidt wrote. “Starting from that, there will be numerous technical and biological obstacles to face that we have to address very carefully before any clinical trial. So, while there are no current plans in place to do human trials, of course this remains a major future goal of our study.”

The American Chemical Society produced a video showing how it works:

This work is just the latest development in the growing field of nanotechnology. In the U.S., the National Nanotechnology Initiative reports that the federal government has invested more than $22 billion since 2001 in research and development of nanotech in medicine other areas of science and engineering.

Schmidt stressed that the purpose of his lab’s work on spermbots is not necessarily to advance nanotechnology itself but to “solve a specific problem, namely theinfertility of men that suffer from asthenozoospermia (immobile sperm).”

About 10 to 15 percent of American couples experience infertility, and medical experts say male fertility problems are a factor in 40 to 50 percent of those cases.

“For us, a desired implication of our work could be that people think about new methods of artificial fertilization that don’t necessarily involve the explantation ofoocytes (and subsequent in vitro fertilization and reimplantation),” Schmidt wrote. “In the long-term, this could lead to higher success rates for couples that want to have a child but are — by current standards — considered infertile. How much nanotechnology will be involved or become the norm in these processes is difficult to predict.”