The clinical benefit and safety of current and future assisted reproductive technology

Reprod Biomed Online. 2012 Aug;25(2):108-17. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2012.04.009. Epub 2012 Apr 30.


Since the first birth by IVF was achieved in 1978, the techniques involved in assisted reproductive technology have grown at an enormous rate. However, new technology has rarely been robustly validated before clinical use and developing scientific understanding of the available techniques has done little to alter their use. Furthermore, there are inconsistencies in the available clinical studies and endpoints. The benefits of some technologies already established for routine use are currently dubious and there are clear ethical concerns with providing them to patients when their scientific basis is not clear. As the uptake of assisted reproductive technology increases and newer technologies continue to push the boundaries of science, it is important to consider the clinical benefits and safety of all assisted reproductive technologies. This review will discuss aspects of some of the more recent techniques, including sperm DNA-damage tests, intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection, amino acid and metabolomics profiling, preimplantation genetic screening and time-lapse imaging, and those that may have substantial impacts on the field of reproductive medicine in the future including artificial gametes, ovarian transplantation and gene therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • DNA Damage / genetics*
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Genetic Testing / trends
  • Genetic Therapy / trends
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling / methods
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Metabolomics / trends
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / standards*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / trends*
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic / methods*
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic / trends
  • Time-Lapse Imaging / methods*
  • Time-Lapse Imaging / trends


  • Amino Acids