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What is Anti-Mullerian Hormone?

October 11, 2018
Katie Visco

Swiss pharmaceutical firm Ferring Pharmaceuticals recently published the results of their clinical trials for their new fertility treatment Rekovelle (follitropin delta.) A follicle stimulating hormone, Rekovelle is meant to be a new step in fertility treatment, meant to give doctors “...a consistent, evidence-based approach to personalizing treatment for their patients,” per Ferring Chief Scientific Officer Peter Falk. Though what data exactly are they drawing on? And what exactly is a “follicle stimulating hormone?” The answer to both of these questions has much to do with a woman’s level of anti-Mullerian hormone, or AMH.

The Dictionary Definition

Unpacking the clinical definition of AMH

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Anti-Mullerian hormone is, as the name would suggest, a hormone produced by ovarian follicles. High AMH levels correlate with higher IVF success rates, though we stress that this is simply a correlation, not a causal relationship. By that same token, lower AMH levels do not necessarily denote a poor response to IVF, though, in conjunction with other factors, it can be a warning sign. AMH blood levels are actually thought to be a fairly accurate indicator of the remaining supply of eggs (or “ovarian reserve”) as the supply of AMH producing follicles drops along with AMH blood levels as a woman ages.

So What Does It Mean?

How AMH levels may play a key role in the future of fertility treatments

Remember when we said Rekovelle is mean to be prescribed in a personalized treatment regimen for each patient? Well AMH, along with body weight, is the key factor in determining exactly how to individually tailor treatment to each patient. Rekovelle showed promising results in women with high AMH levels, in addition to seeming safer than existing follitropin alfa treatments. As medical technology advances and the already robust alternative conception market grows in profile more personalized, algorithm-driven treatment may become the norm.

An Expanding Market

Significant portions of the population have come to rely on the IVF industry

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The future of IVF and the whole fertility treatment industry matters more than you may think. What was once a niche, borderline industry at the time of the birth of Louise Brown, the first “test-tube baby” has become a booming sector of the modern medical industrial complex. A third of Americans now say they have been exposed to fertility treatments somehow, either by themselves or someone they know receiving them. Since 1996 more than a million babies have been born as a result of IVF, and that number will only continue to climb as the service becomes more accessible to lower income brackets, and more acceptable to the world at large. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and it doesn't look like anything will put it back in.

Every Person a Snowflake

The sheer variance of the human genome makes personalized treatment the logical choice for the future.

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There are an estimated 19,000 to 20,000 individual genes that make up the human genome, governing everything from skin color to nostril diameter. That’s an absurd amount of opportunity for variance; the sheer odds of two people being born from different eggs but expressing all the same genes are astronomical. More often than not it’s the differences that don’t show that makes the most difference. Muscle density, blood viscosity, organ size. When you consider all of this the idea of one size fits all treatment for anything from cancer to the common cold starts to sound not only lazy but dangerous. As medicine evolves and begins to make more and more use of better and better technology, we may soon see the advent of full genetic mapping and editing as a medical procedure as common as a flu vaccine. It may sound like science fiction now, but sci-fi has a way of becoming sci-fact.

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