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New Study Offers a Method to Select Which Genes to Transfer to Your Baby


New Study Offers a Method to Select Which Genes to Transfer to Your Baby

U.S Researchers have developed a way to extract genetic information from fertile human egg cells without hurting them.

The new technique could ultimately give parents and doctors a preview of which eggs are likely to make the “best” embryos.

In the research, now in press in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the team of physicians and biologists was able to determine the genetic material, namely mRNA, in egg cells and, in a scientific first, in smaller structures pinched off from them called “polar bodies.” By comparing the genetic information in polar bodies and their host eggs, the researchers were able to determine that the polar bodies offer a faithful reflection of the eggs’ genetic activity.

Polar bodies allow “a natural cytoplasmic biopsy,” providing genetic information without hurting the egg cell, said study co-author Sandra Carson, professor obstetrics and gynecology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the Center for Reproduction and Infertility at Women & Infants Hospital.

Polar bodies are where egg cells dispense with the chromosomes they don’t need. But the polar bodies also capture a microcosm of the egg’s mRNA, the genetic material produced when genes have been transcribed, and a cell is set to make proteins based on those genetic instructions.

Last year the team became the first to find mRNA in human polar bodies. Now they have transcribed it in 22 pairs of human eggs and their polar bodies, and confirmed that what is in the polar bodies is a good proxy for what is in the eggs.

But Carson and the research team acknowledged that more research will be required to create a clinically useful tool.

Finding which genes affect embryo viability is the next major step. With the new knowledge and techniques developed in their study, the researchers said, scientists could analyze the mRNA from polar bodies of eggs that are fertilized and track the progress of the resulting embryos. Once the key genes are known, they could create fast assays to look for those genes in polar bodies so that clinicians and patients could pick the best eggs. A sufficiently developed technology could also be used for choosing which eggs to bank for later use.

“We don’t quite have the answer of what those messages are doing exactly or necessarily the purpose of them in the cell function, but that’s to come,” Carson said. “Now we have the words, but not the sentences.”


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Prepared by: Mohammed Kanjo


Source :

Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital






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