Immunology

Since the mid 1990’s, the MFC has been offering immune therapy for couples who have tried multiple in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments without success. Since that time, immune testing and treatment has continued to improve, resulting in more specific treatments for the specific problems identified.

Determining Immune Factors

When couples produce good-quality embryos during IVF but do not have success with implantation, all other factors are ruled out before testing for immune factors.In theory, a woman could reject every embryo as it is considered “foreign” to her immune system. There are numerous factors that regulate the immune system and allow for implantation/pregnancy to occur, all of which can be tested for. If any of these factors test positive, specific treatments can counteract the specific immune problems.Unfortunately, immune testing is not covered by OHIP and is expensive, which is especially troubling for patients who have already incurred the cost of multiple IVF failures. The cost of treatments are also considerably high.

Treating Immune Problems

Immune treatment is extensive but is specific to the abnormalities found in your immune testing. There are 4 types of immune therapies tailored for specific problems, including:

  1. Lymphocyte immunotherapy (LIT)
  2. TNF-alpha medication (Humira)
  3. Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG)
  4. Anticoagulant therapy (for hereditary coagulopathies; Lovenox/Heparin)

LIT:

Lymphocyte immunotherapy involves the injection of your partner’s white blood cells into your forearm, allowing your body’s immune system to develop an antibody response to his cells. That way, when an embryo is later transferred, your body may be able to recognize it and won’t reject it.

TNF-alpha medication:

TNF-alpha medication (Humira) is used to lower your natural “killer cell” level. Some patients have elevated natural killer cells that can attack an embryo, preventing it from successful implantation.

IVIG:

IVIG is a blood transfusion of pooled immune cells from numerous blood donors. The MFC has been using IVIG for more than 2 decades with an excellent pregnancy rate in patients with previous IVF failures.

Anticoagulant therapy:

Lovenox and Heparin are blood thinners that are used in women who have hereditary blood-clotting defects.