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Making Eggs Stick

An "embryonic glue", being developed through research at the Auckland University of Technology, has the potential to solve the biggest hurdle for couples trying to have children through IVF.

Scientists perfected IVF techniques about 20 years ago, but have been unable to find a way to get the fertilised egg to cling to the lining of the womb. Using standard IVF techniques, about 80% of the fertilised eggs are wasted because they do not implant.

PhD student Debbie Blake is developing a new concept for ensuring the egg stays within the womb.

"This is what we are hung up on in the human fertility industry. It is easy enough to get fertilisation, basically any egg with any sperm, but we still have this problem to solve," Blake says.

Blake is undertaking molecular research to develop an adhesion molecule which would help egg implantation, and is hoping to have an "embryonic glue" within three years.

"There is definitely a lot of potential in this idea and it hasn't been tried anywhere else in the world," she says.

Blake has worked as a fertility consultant in Sweden and the US, working on techniques that help couples become pregnant. She says this research will be invaluable to the human fertility industry and also has applications in animal breeding, especially endangered species.