STANFORD, Calif. Two-thirds of all human embryos fail to develop successfully. Now, in a new study, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown that they can predict with 93 percent certainty which fertilized eggs will make it to a critical developmental milestone and which will stall and die. The findings are important to the understanding of the fundamentals of human development at the earliest stages, which have largely remained a mystery despite the attention given to human embryonic stem cell research.
Because the parameters measured by the researchers in this study occur before any embryonic genes are expressed, the results indicate that embryos are likely predestined for survival or death before even the first cell division. Assessing these parameters in the clinic could make it easier for in vitro fertilization specialists to select embryos for transfer for a successful pregnancy.
"Until recently, we've had so little knowledge about the basic science of our development," said the study's senior author Renee Reijo Pera, PhD. "In addition to beginning to understand more about our development, we're hopeful that our research will help improve pregnancy rates arising from in vitro fertilization, while also reducing the frequency of miscarriage and the need for the selective reduction of multiple embryos."
Reijo Pera is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the medical school and the director of the Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Education at Stanford's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The study will be published online Oct. 3 in Nature Biotechnology. Postdoctoral scholar Connie Wong, PhD, and former postdoctoral scholar Kevin Loewke, PhD, are the co-first authors of the research. Loewke is currently the lead engineer at the Menlo Park, Calif., biotechnology company Auxogyn Inc.
The researchers conducted their studies on a unique set of 2
|Contact: Krista Conger|
Stanford University Medical Center