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25 May 2015
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Meet World’s First Stem Cell Baby, Zain Rajani

For four years, Natasha and her husband Omar Rajani were trying for a baby through traditional IVF treatment. Natasha’s doctor suggested her to try Augment IVF – a treatment using the mother’s own cells to improve the outcomes of IVF. Baby Zain Rajani was born through a new IVF method that relies on the ability to improve the poor quality of older eggs to act young again. Through this advanced IVF treatment, Canada becomes the first country to have the world’s first stem cell baby.

Stem Cells’ Contribution to IVF Treatment

The poor quality of eggs is one of the main reasons for infertility problems in women and IVF treatments cannot improve the chances of pregnancy in such cases. The doctors in Toronto, Canada removed a small sliver of ovarian tissue from Zain’s mother through laparoscopic technique and scientists from Ovascience Fertility Company successfully identified and isolated the egg stem cells from the tissue. They extracted mitochondria from the isolated egg stem cells, which are the powerhouse of cells. Some years back, researchers from Massachusetts, Boston identified that stem cells present in the protective lining of the ovaries can mature into fresh eggs. These precursor cells scrapped from the ovary lining can provide a reliable source of energy to the older eggs. Thus, the mitochondria in these stem cells can be extracted and added to the poor quality matured egg and sperm in IVF treatment. This procedure dramatically improves the chance of having a successful IVF treatment, followed by a healthy baby.

How Stem Cells Helped in Baby Zain’s Birth?

Mitochondria is like the batteries that fuel the cell growth so the scientists extracted mitochondria from Natasha’s immature egg stem cells present on the lining of the ovary. The mitochondria were added with the parents’ egg and sperm to produce the embryo under IVF conditions. The idea is that the mitochondria from egg stem cells will recharge the existing battery of the matured egg and help in the growth of the baby. In Natasha and Omar Rajani’s case, this technique worked and now they are blessed with baby Zain. According to Time magazine, three dozen women from 4 different countries have tried this procedure and 8 women are currently pregnant.

Why Augment IVF Treatment is Better?

Unlike other stem cells, these ovarian stem cells can only form eggs and have the potential to provide energy source for older eggs to act young again. The mitochondria extracted from the egg stem cells come from the same mother as the matured egg chosen for IVF treatment, resembling close to the normal IVF treatment unlike ‘Ooplasmic transfer’ treatment where mitochondria from a 3rd donor is used, thus DNA from 3 different individuals were involved in creating a baby. Augment IVF treatment is also offered to patients who have zero percent pregnancy rate, failed IVF treatments etc. Although FDA didn’t approve this treatment procedure citing the unavailability of more research studies, Augment IVF treatment shows promising outcomes; miracle baby little Zain is an example and hope for many couples who are fighting infertility every day.

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