Basic research often takes years to be translated into medical applications, but once in a while, a finding can change lives almost immediately.
In 2006, Prof. Nava Dekel of the Biological Regulation Department, together with doctors in the IVF unit of Kaplan Medical Center, made the surprising discovery that performing a uterine biopsy – causing a slight injury to the lining of the uterus – just before a woman undergoes in vitro fertilization (IVF) doubles the chances of a successful pregnancy. The injury apparently provokes a response that makes the uterus more receptive to the embryo's implantation.
The next year, Dekel was in Toronto, Canada, giving a lecture in the framework of the Weizmann Women and Science series, organized by Weizmann Canada. That lecture was reported in a local Jewish newspaper, where it caught the attention of Howard and Roslyn Kaman. After years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, failed IVF and miscarriages, the couple gained new hope. They contacted Dekel, and she referred them to Drs. Amichai Barash and Irit Granot, who had participated in the original research along with Drs. Yael Kalma and Yulia Gnainsky of the Weizmann Institute.
The Rehovot doctors provided a detailed description of the procedure, which was then performed in a fertility clinic in Toronto. The result: A healthy baby girl, Hannah Esther Angel Kaman, was born this past October.
Prof. Nava Dekel's research is supported by the Dwek Family Biomedical Research Fund; the Kirk Center for Childhood Cancer and Immunological Disorders; and the Dr. Pearl H. Levine Foundation for Research in the Neurosciences. Prof. Dekel is the incumbent of the Philip M. Klutznick Professorial Chair of Developmental Biology.