A green graphic representing an embryo

NICS

Non-invasive chromosome screening is a new way to assess embryos that are not suitable for invasive surgical biopsy (PGT), enabling more embryos to be DNA-tested than was previously possible.

How does NICS work?

Embryos that do not contain the correct amount of chromosome pairs often result in miscarriage or a child born with a genetic abnormality. That risk increases rapidly when a woman gets older. Genetic testing allows these embryos to be identified before they are transferred back to the womb.

The current practice of pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) of embryos requires 5–10% of the embryo cell mass to be removed in order for the genetic DNA test to be performed. This means the test can only be performed on the strongest embryos. Thus, many embryos are not suitable for DNA testing and a small number do not survive the procedure.

NICS, also referred to as non-invasive pre-implantation genetic testing, enables embryos that are not suitable for invasive surgical biopsy (PGT) to now also be screened. As an embryo’s cells grow and divide, they secrete DNA into the culture medium in which they are growing. DNA that is extracted from this culture medium can be tested for chromosomal abnormalities. Because the test is non-invasive, embryos that were previously assessed as not strong enough for PGT but may still result in a healthy baby, can now also be screened.

Who do we recommend NICS for?

We generally recommend NICS for patients whose embryos are not suitable for an invasive surgical embryo biopsy (PGT), particularly patients who are older and/or at a higher risk of miscarriage or failed pregnancy.

Your Newlife fertility specialist will take the time to understand your personal situation and preferences, before helping you decide if genetic testing is right for you. In most cases where DNA testing is considered appropriate, your fertility specialist will plan to perform PGT-A. Embryos that are not suitable for biopsy may then proceed to NICS. 

What are the limitations?

NICS does require that intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is used for fertilisation, whereas standard insemination is fine for PGT-A.

It is important to realise that NICS is not a substitute for PGT-A.  NICS is best thought of as an embryo ranking tool. It allows us to select the embryo with the highest potential of leading to a viable pregnancy, and in what order we should transfer your frozen embryos in order to achieve a healthy pregnancy faster.

How much does it cost?

At Newlife IVF, NICS costs $395 per embryo.*

*Fee correct as of 1 August 2019.

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