A NEW way of processing embryos during IVF treatment can improve the chances of pregnancy by more than a quarter, it is claimed.
The technique means delicate embryos no longer have to be removed from incubators to check on their progress, which can be harmful.
Instead, the system developed by researchers in Newcastle allows all procedures to be conducted within an enclosed and controlled environment.
A three-year study showed that it produced a minimum 27pc increase in clinical pregnancy rates.
Patients had a 45pc chance of getting pregnant, compared with a 35pc success rate under the old system.
Professor Mary Herbert, who led the research team at Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, part of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Our aim was to keep eggs and embryos in conditions similar to those they would experience naturally - inside a woman's body.
"This led our team to design and develop a system in which it is possible to perform all of the technical procedures while maintaining stable conditions throughout the IVF process."
Results of the study appear in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.
Professor Alison Murdoch, head of clinical service at Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, said: "Growing good embryos is the key to IVF success and everyone, even those who have a very small prospect of success, deserve to have the best possible chance.
"Since installing this new technology over 850 babies have now been born."