Monash IVF Group Annual Report 2021

Genetics and Diagnostics

Genetics is entering an exciting phase at Monash IVF Group. Genetics extends beyond traditional infertility treatment and applies to anyone who is either planning a pregnancy or is pregnant.

The advances in genetics represent an opportunity to connect with a broader base of patients who are keen to understand how genetic testing can help them achieve the goal of having a healthy pregnancy. The Monash IVF Group Genetics team is extremely well placed to take advantage of all of the opportunities in this growing field and become a world leader in reproductive genetics.

All areas of reproductive genetics, including preconception genetic carrier screening, preimplantation genetic testing of embryos and non-invasive prenatal testing during pregnancy, have shown considerable growth in FY21. Our team provides a world class service to our IVF units and specialist ultrasound units and our expertise in genetics is increasingly recognised locally and internationally. Our presence at national and international conferences and publication in high quality journals of research in prenatal diagnosis and preimplantation genetic testing is testament to the high quality of our team.

In recognition of the importance of genetics to the strategic direction of the company, Monash IVF Group appointed Dr Tristan Hardy to the role of Medical Director of Genetics. Dr Hardy has strong connections with the public health sector, as well as research and commercial genetics companies, which will leverage Monash IVF Group to drive innovation in this space. He is supported in his role by Dr Melody Menezes, Head Genetic Counsellor & Scientific Director, a national leader in the genetic counselling field.

A key pillar of our genetics strategy is the provision of genetic counselling and laboratory services for individuals and couples who wish to have genetic carrier screening. Genetic carrier screening is the process of comparing the DNA sequences of a reproductive couple prior to pregnancy or during pregnancy to work out if there is a chance of having a child with a significant medical condition. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends that all individuals and couples planning pregnancy are offered carrier screening. Although genetic conditions in childhood are individually rare, collectively they are common with 1 in 40 couples at high risk. These couples will be able to access prenatal diagnosis through our ultrasound clinics or may decide to undergo IVF with genetic testing of embryos to minimise the chance of having a child with a genetic condition.

The Monash IVF Group Genetics team has developed an at-home genetic carrier screening test which will be available for patients having treatment within the Group. More importantly, it will extend the reach of our services and connect with patients who are planning pregnancy in the community, allowing them to achieve the goal of having a healthy pregnancy and beginning their journey with us if they have any reproductive difficulty along the way.

In recognition of the importance of preimplantation genetic testing as part of the reproductive journey for these couples, the Federal Government committed $95.6 million to new MBS items supporting preimplantation genetic testing for couples in this scenario. As we transition to a fully-fledged Genetic Pathology laboratory under the new national guidelines, we will continue to meet the regulatory requirements to provide this testing. Moreover, our research and development activities will continue to focus on new methods of preimplantation genetic testing and establish our team as world leaders in this space.

 

There are many more opportunities on the horizon and our team are excited to deliver further developments to assist Monash IVF Group in its’ mission to help bring life to the world.