Further to media coverage this weekend, including The Australian and Daily Telegraph, Associate Professor Gavin Sacks, IVF Australia, explains the treatment approach behind the ‘Bondi Protocol’.
He said: “Natural killer cells play an essential role in in helping the body fight infection or invasion. In some people, the immune system mistakenly recognises and attacks ‘self’. Women who have fertility problems, specifically miscarriage or embryo implantation failure, are more likely to have higher levels of activity of these natural killer cells.
“The Bondi Protocol is an experimental treatment option for these women, which involves the use of an immunosuppressant to reduce the number, and activation levels, of natural killer cells found in the uterus.
“By lowering the body’s immune response through the Bondi Protocol, we are trying to stop the natural killer cells from attacking the embryo in the womb because they see it as a foreign body, and therefore giving it the opportunity to develop there.
“At IVF Australia, we can offer women a simple blood test to measure the number, and activation levels, of natural killer cells in the womb. The other means to achieve this data is conducting a biopsy which is more invasive.
“We have reviewed 87 women in a study, all of whom had a poor prognosis. 56 women had experienced repeated IVF failure. They had an average age of 39, and had been trying for a baby for four years, going through a mean of six IVF cycles. The remaining 31 women had experienced recurrent miscarriage, with an average age of 38; they had been trying for a baby for an average of two years with a mean number of six miscarriages.
“For the women in the recurrent miscarriage group, 80 per cent became pregnant within a year naturally. In the repeated IVF failure group, 68 per cent fell pregnant within three cycles of IVF. The live birth rate in women under 38, with clinical history of no reproductive issues, was 86 per cent which is very promising.
“We are continuing to study and develop our understanding of this area of fertility treatment. I really hope to see it benefit more patients in the future.”
Patients interested in finding out more about the Bondi Protocol should talk to their fertility specialist.
• Abstract presented by Associate Professor Gavin Sacks at the Fertility Society of Australia Conference 2012: http://www.fsaconference.com/program/abstracts/cumulative-livebirth-outcome-following-treatment-with-the-bondi-protocol-in-women-with-repeated-reproductive-failure-and-high-peripheral-blood-nk-cell-levels/
For further information please contact Nicole Phillips on 0408 280 499 or Hayley Dodman on 0420 958 296