New Research On The Kisspeptin Hormone for Egg Donation

Many women considering egg donation have one chief concern, “Will the medications hurt, or cause unpleasant side effects for me?” While for most women the answer is, “probably not,” some women will find that they are more prone to developing a condition called Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome, or OHSS. The condition is quite rare among egg donors and is generally easily cleared up. However, for those who do develop it, it can cause swelling and pain as they recover from their donation.

In an effort to continually improve the experience of IVF, researchers in the UK have begun studying a hormone called “Kisspeptin” as an alternative to the standard medications used by egg donors and women preparing for an egg retrieval. The hormone, which researchers believe is instrumental to the onset of puberty, was used in human clinical trials as an alternative to traditional IVF therapies used to stimulate ovaries.

Traditionally, doctors have used hCG to stimulate the production of eggs in the ovaries. A doctor would later retrieve those eggs, fertilize them, and eventually transfer them into a woman’s uterus. However, as many as 10% of women reported uncomfortable side effects from the treatment. The diagnosis was most frequently Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome. Intended mothers with diagnosed Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) were at the greatest risk of developing OHSS.

Doctors and researchers began to study Kisspeptin, which is produced in the hypothalamus region of the brain, as a means of improving egg maturity rates while lowering the odds of developing OHSS. Since the body breaks the hormone down more quickly than hCG, researchers theorized that it would lead to a less severe reaction and lower odds at overstimulation of the ovaries. What they found was that, with two injections of the hormone, egg maturity and abundance paralleled that of a single hCG “trigger” injection.

Following several successful births after using Kisspeptin treatment, doctors in the UK are looking for ways to make an adapted, medical form of the hormone.

As of late 2017, close to 70 babies have been born as a result of the new ovarian stimulation therapy. The success rate falls right at 36%, which researchers in the UK noted was 10% better than the IVF rate in similar cases.

Researchers hope to have a method better developed and capable of wider use within the next five years, noting that this could come close to eliminating cases of OHSS altogether.

The hormone was first discovered in 1996 in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and eventually named after the famed “Hershey Kiss.”