It just doesn’t seem to end. More quality controls on IVF embryos. Read this: For the first time, fertility researchers have used DNA fingerprinting to identify which embryos have implanted after in vitro fertilization or IVF and developed successfully to result in the births of healthy babies. The technique, combined with sampling cells from the early embryo known as the blastocysts before implantation in the womb, opens the way to pin-pointing a handful of genes that could be used to identify those blastocysts most likely to result in a successful pregnancy. The authors of the research, published online in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction on May 14, believe that their findings will revolutionize IVF by improving pregnancy rates and eliminating multiple pregnancies. As part of the study of 48 women undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment at a hospital in Greece, blood from the umbilical cord or swabs of cheek cells of the babies who were born were taken and stored. The researchers used DNA fingerprinting on these samples to match them with the DNA obtained from the blastocyst biopsies, thereby identifying which embryo grew into which baby. Then they used microarray to analyze the genetic message and find out which genes were expressed in the viable blastocysts. The researchers said the work is still continuing, but already they have discovered that genes known to be involved cell adhesion, cell communication, cellular metabolic processes and response to stimuli—key processes involved in embryo implantation—are expressed in the viable blastocysts.
- Jennifer Lahl is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.