Vietnamese doctor's groundbreaking infertility study featured in Lancet

By Le Phuong   June 29, 2024 | 07:00 pm PT
Vietnamese doctor's groundbreaking infertility study featured in Lancet
Doctor Ho Ngoc Anh Vu talks with patients at My Duc Hospital in HCMC. Photo courtesy of the hospital
An infertility study by a doctor of a HCMC’s hospital was recently published in the Lancet, marking the second time a scientific work from Vietnamese medicine has appeared in the world's leading medical journal.

The work, published on June 27, was conducted by 34-year-old Ho Ngoc Anh Vu, under the guidance of Associate Professor Vuong Thi Ngoc Lan, head of the Medicine Department at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City.

Vu currently heads the Assisted Reproduction Technique Unit at My Duc Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Binh District.

The co-authors of the paper are Pham Duong Toan, Nguyen Thanh Nam, Vuong Thi Ngoc Lan, Ho Manh Tuong, Rui Wang, Robert Norman, and Ben Mol.

The research discusses protocols for preparing the uterine lining, likening it to "building a cozy nest for the embryo before transferring it into the uterus."

With a favorable environment, the embryo can develop more robustly, increasing the chances of pregnancy. However, each patient has different physical conditions, so using a single protocol would not be suitable for everyone.

The study compared natural and modified natural cycle strategies with an artificial cycle strategy for endometrial preparation before frozen embryo transfer (FET). The three methods are the most commonly applied global protocols for endometrial preparation.

The research team recruited ovulatory women aged 18–45 years at a hospital in HCMC who were randomly allocated (1:1:1) to natural, modified natural, or artificial cycle endometrial preparation using a computer-generated random list and block randomization. 

Between March 22, 2021, and March 14, 2023, 4,779 women were screened and 1,428 were randomly assigned to each group using a computer-generated random list and block randomization.

The result shows 99 first FET cycles were cancelled in each of the natural and modified cycle groups, versus none in the artificial cycle group. The live birth rate after one FET was 174 (37%) of 476 in the natural cycle strategy group, 159 (33%) of 476 in the modified natural cycle strategy group, and 162 (34%) of 476 in the artificial cycle strategy group.

Maternal and neonatal outcomes did not differ significantly between groups, as the power to detect small differences was low.

The findings support physicians by providing more scientific evidence, thereby enabling them to choose the appropriate protocol for each patient, aiming to optimize treatment outcomes.

This is also the first study to include an interim analysis and has been evaluated by an independent international data analysis board including Professors Lyle Gurrin, Jim Thorton, and Ernest Ng from the U.K., Australia, and Hong Kong.

Vu mentioned that the project had to be paused after two months of research due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021. The doctors focused on combating the pandemic while adjusting the study's sample collection plan to suit the situation.

When Ho Chi Minh City lifted all social distancing measures, the research treatment activities resumed.

After completing sample collection in March 2023, the team began preparing the manuscript and documents. On Dec. 18, 2023, after several online and in-person meetings between the Vietnamese research team and experts from Australia, the first draft was sent to The Lancet.

After many months of work, providing data, and meeting numerous stringent requirements from the review team of independent experts and the editorial board, the work was finally published.

The Lancet is a long-standing scientific journal, first published in October 1823, and currently has the highest scientific impact factor in the world. It is considered one of the most credible and advanced sources of information in the global medical and health science community. Research works accepted for publication must be of superior scientific quality and have a profound impact on treatment and research activities.

This is the second time that a scientific work from Vietnamese medicine has appeared in The Lancet. The first was published in April 2021 by the research team from My Duc Hospital, in collaboration with many domestic and international units, on the technique of sperm injection to treat infertility.

From the results of that research, for over a year now, the hospital has been applying new techniques in treatment, bringing effectiveness to many patients.

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