Scientists in Australia and Greece have used a novel combination of molecular techniques that may help researchers identify human embryos produced in vitro that are likely to be “developmentally competent” (Jones GM et al. Hum Reprod. 10.1093/humrep/den123 [published online ahead of print May 13, 2008]).
In their study, which involved 48 women undergoing fertility treatment, the researchers removed 8 to 20 cells from early embryos (blastocysts) and subsequently implanted at least 1 blastocyst in each of the women. DNA fingerprinting of the blastocysts and of cells from the resultant infants allowed the researchers to determine which of the embryos had successfully implanted and developed. The investigators also used microarray analysis to compare patterns of gene expression in cells removed before implantation of the viable vs nonviable embryos; some genes, including genes involved in cell adhesion and cell communication, were expressed exclusively in the viable blastocysts.
Stephenson J. In Vitro Fertilization. JAMA. 2008;299(23):2737. doi:10.1001/jama.299.23.2737-c