Class action launched against Monash IVF over non-invasive embryo testing

A heartbroken woman has launched a multi-million-dollar class action against one of Australia’s leading IVF clinics, saying her chances of falling pregnant have been scuttled after a controversial genetic test labelled her embryos as “abnormal”.

Danielle Bopping, of Canberra, has launched a class action in Victoria’s Supreme Court accusing Monash IVF of breaching its duty of care by failing to tell her and others about the pitfalls of non-invasive pre-implantation genetic testing, which was being trumpeted by the fertility specialist.

She has since learned the testing can produce false-positives.

Her lawyer, Michel Margalit, said more than 100 people had already expressed interest in joining the suit and she was expecting up to 1,000.

“Danielle’s in her 40s now and had she known at the time that this technology was … not accurate in the manner she believed, she could have taken a different course,” Ms Margalit said.

“I think that there is a real possibility that many, many people will question whether or not they have lost their ability to have children because of this inaccurate testing.”

If successful, the class action could reap millions of dollars in compensation.

“This will be one of the largest class actions ever brought against a fertility provider,” Ms Margalit said.

“We will be fighting for the rights of these women who have placed their trust in the hands of a medical provider and unknowingly have had devastating consequences.”

‘Every week and month counts’

The class action centres on the way in which Monash IVF conducted genetic testing on embryos to uncover abnormalities.

There are two ways to conduct such testing: the first method is through a biopsy, which involves taking a tissue sample from an embryo, a method that is considered invasive.

The second method is called non-invasive pre-implantation genetic testing and involves collecting DNA from the culture that the embryo has been growing in while in the laboratory.

According to court documents, lawyers alleged that Monash IVF told patients including Ms Bopping that the two tests were “identical” in 95 per cent of cases.

In November 2019, Ms Bopping had the non-invasive testing done on an embryo and was informed that the results were “abnormal”.

As a result, she decided not to pursue inserting the embryo.

Her lawyers now say she was the victim of “false, misleading and deceptive” behaviour because she was not told that the non-invasive type of testing could return a false-positive.

Monash IVF has since suspended the non-invasive testing.

Ms Margalit said the decision her client made that was based on the test results had whittled away crucial time.

She has since been unable to find anyone willing to insert her embryo because it has already been labelled abnormal.

“Every week and month counts when you’re in your 40s,” Ms Margalit said.

“Some people fear that they’ve lost their last chance to produce their own genetically-related children.”

Others, she said, had since made life-altering decisions based on those testing results.

“Other people have gone on to use donor embryos and many women are now questioning their decision to cease treatment. So, there really will be lifelong consequences,” she said.

Monash IVF has been contacted for comment.

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Baby girl born from record-setting 27-year-old embryo

Ms Gibson, an elementary school teacher and her husband, a 36-year-old cyber security analyst, connected with the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), a Christian non-profit in Knoxville that stores frozen embryos that in vitro fertilisation patients decided not to use and chose to donate instead.

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Fossil embryo dubbed the ‘small giant’ packs surprises about a big dinosaur

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The skull of a dinosaur embryo from Argentina is providing surprising details about baby facial features present in one species from an important dinosaur group called titanosaurs that included the largest land animals that have ever lived on Earth.

Scientists on Thursday said the fragile fossil is among the best-preserved dinosaur embryonic remains ever found – a nearly intact skull about 1.2 inches (3 cm) long that has remained three-dimensional rather than being flattened during the fossilization process.

“We used to get excited about the skeletons of giant dinosaurs but it always makes a difference when we get to look inside the eggs of these giants,” said paleobiologist Martin Kundrat of Pavol Jozef Safarik University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Biosciences in Slovakia, lead author of the research published in the journal Current Biology.

“This does not happen so often and it remains quite exceptional to find more-or-less complete fossilized embryonic remains,” Kundrat added, calling this dinosaur “the small giant.”

The Cretaceous Period fossil from Patagonia is believed to be about 80 million years old. The dinosaur appears to have had specialized facial features as a hatchling that changed as it got older. Powerful imaging technology revealed unexpected characteristics including a small horn projecting from the snout as well as eyes facing forward, indicative of binocular vision.

The facial horn may have helped the dinosaur hatch from its egg like the “egg tooth” present in some hatchling birds and reptiles, but may also have served other functions such as defense or food-gathering, Kundrat said.

Titanosaurs were part of a highly successful group of plant-eating dinosaurs called sauropods known for their long necks, long tails and pillar-like legs. The largest, such as Argentinosaurus and Patagotitan, were around 120 feet (35 meters) long. The precise species to which this embryo belonged is unclear. Its skull bears similarities to a moderate-sized titanosaur called Tapuiasaurus that was roughly 43 feet (13 meters) long.

The embryo differed in facial anatomy and size from similar Patagonian titanosaur embryos.

“It is a bit unusual for a fossil to be represented just by a skull,” Kundrat added. “The specimen perished before completing its development. It had undergone only four-fifths of its incubation period.”

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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