ACRM hosted its inaugural Advances in Reproductive Medicine Symposium on November 2017. Find out more about what the esteemed speakers had to say about the latest developments in fertility and reproductive medicine.
The below article was published by Global Health & Travel as their coverage of the ACRM Symposium 2017
The trend among developed countries regarding falling birth rates is something that is of great concern in Singapore, where there are only 1.24 live births per woman, way below the required rate of 2 live births in order to maintain the population. Fertility specialists in the city state have had a long experience in improving the state of reproductive medicine, and the Advanced Centre for Reproductive Medicine (ACRM) has identified the need to share this experience with their neighbours in Southeast Asia.
As the rest of Southeast Asia continues to develop economically, falling birth rates has become an issue that has surfaced in developing countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. It is hard to imagine falling birth rates as an issue in the hugely populated Indonesia, but statistics show that developed cities in Indonesia, such as the capital Jakarta, are seeing lower birth rates compared to rural areas. One can expect that the common causes of lower birth rates in developed countries, such as later marriage age and increased access to birth control, will contribute to these cities. Malaysia itself is also seeing a live birth rate of 1.94 per woman, below the replacement rate of 2.
For ACRM, a long established fertility centre in Singapore, these falling birth rates represent a need for better access to reproductive medicine in the region. With this in mind, ACRM organised the inaugural ACRM Symposium on 18 November 2017, a full day event that saw around 40 medical representatives, ObGyn specialists, fertility specialists and embryologists from Indonesia and Malaysia in attendance.
For ACRM founder, Professor Christopher Chen, a pioneer of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in Southeast Asia and Oceania, being the first doctor to produce the world’s first IVF triples in 1983 and the first doctor to successfully freeze a human egg in 1986, the ACRM Symposium represented the next step in advancing reproductive medicine in the region. Now the clinical advisor and chairman of ACRM, Professor Chen has taken a step back from clinical practice and is instead looking to share his experience with the next generation of doctors.
“Collaboration and knowledge sharing is an important step in improving medical education and expertise. At ACRM, we pursue a holistic, multidisciplinary approach towards infertility, and it is important for us to share our approach with our colleagues in the region,” Professor Chen said during his welcoming address for the symposium.
The inaugural ACRM Symposium was held over two locations, a morning session at Gleneagles Hospital and the event proper at Hotel Jen Tanglin. The morning session saw talks presented by Dr John Chia, an oncologist at OncoCare, and Dr Vivien Lim, an endocrinologist at Vivien Lim Endocrinology Specialist Centre. The purpose of these talks was to show how infertility problems related to oncology and endocrinology could be tackled through a collaborative multidisciplinary effort. Dr John Chia presented how BRCA gene testing was important in managing the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers in women, and how such testing could be used in predicting infertility in women. For Dr Vivien Lim’s session, she shared how hormonal disorders, one of the common causes of infertility in women, needed to be treated concurrently in order to restore fertility.
The morning session also included tours of the respective doctors’ clinics, as well as a walkthrough of ACRM’s new Assisted Reproduction Centre. Housed within the ACRM premises, the centre consists of a procedure room, a recovery ward and a fully equipped embryology lab with ICSI micro-manipulator, time lapse embryo monitoring incubator and cryopreservation room.
The symposium proper was held in the afternoon, with a lineup of speakers that included international speaker Professor Hayden Homer, head of Oocyte Biology Research Lab and the Professor Christopher Chen Chair in Reproductive Medicine at the University of Queensland, Australia. Kicking off the events was Dr Lim Min Yu, clinical director of ACRM, who shared the latest advances and research findings in reproductive medicine, including the results of trials on personalised stimulation, segmented IVF and embryo selection. According to research, personalised stimulation reduced the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and also minimised cycle cancellation. Dr Lim also presented trial results on segmented ART, showing the differences in outcomes between frozen embryo transfers and fresh embryo transfers. He closed his speech by covering the topic of embryo selection, an important factor in successful IVF. Dr Lim spoke about the benefits of pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) in the selection of healthy embryos for transfer, and also covered alternative solutions such as the use of time lapse embryo monitoring in Singapore, where is not yet allowed.
Professor Homer’s talk focused on mitochondrial dysfunction as a key cause of age-related decline in oocyte quality, along with the results of research into NAD+-boosting for reversing female age-related decline in egg quality and fertility. Dr Ho Siew Hong, visiting consultant urologist at ACRM, brought the attention away from female infertility onto its counterpart, male infertility. Addressing the fact that male infertility contributed to 40% of infertility cases, Dr Ho spoke about the different ways to evaluate and manage male infertility.
Dr Suresh Nair closed out the ACRM Symposium with a talk on the effective use of laparoscopic and robotic surgery in order to manage fertility-affecting conditions such as endometriosis, cysts and fibroids. The day’s events were concluded with a networking dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where the delegates were able to mingle with the speakers and seek further clarification and analysis. Dr Vincent Chia, former CEO of Gleneagles Hospital, who co-hosted the ACRM Symposium, believed that the event as an important step in furthering the development of reproductive medicine in Southeast Asia.
“Fertility specialists in Singapore have been tackling the issue of infertility for many years, and there is a strong pool of experience and expertise here that we feel can be useful to our colleagues overseas. Instead of working behind closed doors, it is important that fertility specialists, such as the team from ACRM, work together with their regional counterparts in order to share their knowledge and find better ways to collaborate. It is through working together that we can all seek to improve the state of reproductive medicine in Southeast Asia and help more patients fulfill their dreams of parenthood.”