IVF Scrutinized by Science (7/04)

Some Views of IVF at Annual Meeting of Experts The 20th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology provided a mixed bag of news. Along with the usual news of the latest advances in in-vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques, there were more somber presentations regarding the limits and abuses of artificial reproduction methods. The June 27-30 meeting got off to an inauspicious start when Rolf Winau, professor of the history of medicine at the Free University of Berlin, argued for lifting his country's restrictions on reproductive methods. Winau urged Germany's doctors to get over the taboos triggered by the Nazi abuses, the London-based Times reported June 28. Winau argued for lifting the limits contained in the embryo protection law that prevent the use of techniques such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. This method identifies embryos with genetic problems, leading to their destruction. Then came news that for the first time a woman became pregnant following a transplant of ovary tissue, BBC reported June 29. Doctors from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Brussels had treated the woman, whose baby girl, conceived naturally, is due in October. The patient was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1997. Before she underwent chemotherapy a portion of her ovary tissue was removed and frozen. After she was declared free from cancer in April 2003, the tissue was transplanted back into her body.   Doubts still exist as to whether the ovum which was fertilized came from the transplanted tissue or from the other ovary which had been left in her body and could have begun to function again. Those doubts notwithstanding, Josephine Quintavalle...