The Mallorca Convention Bureau has hosted today the official press conference of the 8th International IVIRMA Congress on Reproductive Medicine, a biennial conference in which more than 1,600 attendees from 71 countries come together. This event was attended by the President of the Congress and Director of IVI Mallorca, Dr. Javier Marqueta; the Scientific Director, Dr. Juan Antonio García-Velasco; and Dr. Dagan Wells, member of the Scientific Committee.
“It is an honour for us to receive in Mallorca the greatest representatives of research and good practices in assisted reproduction”, said Dr. Marqueta, President of the Congress. “IVI was created and has grown thanks to our commitment to science, to keeping our facilities, techniques and staff up to date with the latest developments; and this can only be achieved with research as our basic mainstay”, he added.
The Congress has addressed the latest discoveries and trends in the field of reproductive medicine, such as the embryo gene editing, the influence of metabolism and the study of extracellular vesicles as a research element in the improvement of embryo selection.
In this sense, Dr. García-Velasco, Scientific Director, has highlighted the organization’s efforts to focus the programme on the most relevant issues for the attendees: “At each edition of the congress, we see how the interest in attending increases, which also encourages us to bring the best researchers and to be able to debate the latest trends in this field”.
Embryo gene editing
As in the last edition, in which we can highlight Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisúa’s presentation on the possibilities of gene therapy for anti-ageing and curing congenital diseases, gene editing has played a relevant role, this time at the hands of Dr. Dagan Wells, member of the Scientific Committee of the 8th International IVIRMA Congress. This technique is performed using CRISPR technology, which works like molecular scissors allowing the replacement of damaged parts of the DNA (which can lead to hereditary diseases) with other healthy ones. Thus, by analysing the embryo’s cells before it is transferred to the maternal uterus, it is possible to detect and even correct these alterations, increasing the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
“This type of progress generates great social controversy, as we recently saw with the news of the birth of a Chinese baby whose DNA had been modified,” contextualized Dr. Wells, member of the Scientific Committee. “Events such as the IVIRMA Congress act as a platform for debating the benefits and problems, including the ethical ones, which can lead to technological advances such as gene editing”, he added, “and in this sense the participation of the scientific community is vital”.
“For the time being, in the IVI group we will study this technique, not because we contemplate its clinical application in the immediate future, but because it will allow us to answer basic questions about the biology and development of human embryos”, commented the specialist, who is also the Director of the IVIRMA Innovation Basic Research Centre in Oxford. “In addition, technically speaking, it is much more practical to perform this analysis on embryos with just a few cells than on babies or adults, who have millions of cells”, he highlighted.