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Health Scan: Help for the infertile
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
15/12/2013
“Embryoscope” has increased by an impressive 11 percent the success in achieving a pregnancy in couples with fertility problems.
 
After yearning for a baby for 15 years and numerous attempts at pregnancy, an Israeli couple have had a healthy baby – Shai-Li Vazana – with help from a device called an “embryoscope” at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. She was the first Israeli to be born thanks to the device, which raises the success rates of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Experts said the device has increased by an impressive 11 percent the success in achieving a pregnancy in couples with fertility problems.

The device makes possible ongoing checks on the development of embryos without taking them out of the incubator (before insertion into the woman’s body) and without human contact with the Petri dishes in which they are kept.

The Vazanas got married in 1998 and have since not been able to conceive. Recently, they were told by Kaplan fertility experts about the embryoscope system, and they immediately agreed that it be used on their embryos.

“A month after the attempt, she called her husband with joyful tears to say that Kaplan doctors had told her she was pregnant. “I was in total shock, and only after the third month did I dare to tell family members,” said Jasmine Vazana.

Hospital doctors said in view of the success they expect the embryoscope will bring many more infertile couples to Kaplan for help. Dr. Amihai Barach, who heads the IVF unit, said anyone who has been through in-vitro fertilization know how difficult the quest for a healthy baby is.

Dr. Orit Granot, who heads the IVF lab, added that research shows ensuring a stable environment for the embryos during the first days of their existence is critical in the development of the fetus. Before the embryoscope became available, staffers had to open the incubator as often as twice a day to see how the embryos were doing. The new, high-resolution camera device produces ongoing images – every 20 seconds – of the embryos from various angles without the need for the containers to be touched.

Up to 27 embryos can be monitored at once until they are inserted into the womb or are stored frozen.

So far, 200 IVF cycles have been carried out since Kaplan purchased the device.

The new mother urged infertile couples who haven’t had success with ordinary IVF procedures to apply to Kaplan.

“We are a classic example of stubbornness and patience despite the difficulties in getting pregnant.

We were on the edge, about to give up and apply for adoption, when the angels in white at Kaplan gave us the chance for the gift of our daughter. It’s an indescribable feeling,” Jasmine said.

$50 MILLION GIFT FOR PERSONALIZED MEDICINE

The American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science announced that Nancy and Stephen Grand of San Francisco have committed $50 million to advance the international study of personalized medicine.

The funds will be used by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot to operate a new center for personalized medicine. The gift is the single largest contribution ever made to the American committee in its 70-year history of supporting scientific research and science education.

As the only facility of its kind in Israel and in the region, the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine (INCPM) is a stateof- the-art biomedical research center focused on four innovative fields – genomics, protein profiling, bioinformatics and drug discovery. Personalized and predictive medicine uses information about a person’s genes, proteins and personal history to prevent, diagnose and treat disease.

The center, a national consortium with representatives from major universities, hospitals and the biotechnology sector, has a national steering committee headed by Prof. Aaron Ciechanover, the 2004 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.

The center will collaborate with researchers from leading institutions abroad and offer the advantage of being able to draw upon Israel’s diverse genetic pool, comprised of populations from around the globe.

“Nancy and I recognize that Israel is a world leader in science and technology. This gift enables Weizmann to equip itself to participate in the exploding world of genetics and to find cures for diseases to improve the human condition,” said donor Stephen Grand. “We all know that the brilliance of Weizmann’s scientists will result in major progress from which we will all benefit. In addition, all Israeli scientists who wish to work in this new field will have facilities and teams of other scientists in Israel with whom to collaborate without needing to travel to other countries to do this important work. We are thrilled to assist in this powerful effort.”

Prof. Daniel Zajfman, president of the Weizmann Institute, said that the Grands’ extraordinary gift will profoundly influence the future of biomedical research.

“Stephen and Nancy Grand are full and valued partners in our audacious vision for the future,” he said. “The center serves not only our own scientists, but researchers from all over the country.”

Stephen Grand is the co-founder of Grand/Sakwa Properties, one of the largest developers of residential and retail properties in the Midwest. His wife is the immediate past president of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund in San Francisco.
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