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Early embryos can correct genetic abnormalities during development
Date:7/5/2011

Professor William G. Kearns told the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology that a three-day-old embryo (called a cleavage stage embryo) with an incorrect number of chromosomes (known as "aneuploidy") was capable of undergoing "a dynamic process of genetic normalisation" so that by day five, when it had developed to the blastocyst stage, it had become euploid, with the correct number of chromosomes.

The findings have significant implications not just for preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) during fertility treatment, but also for future, cell-based, stem cell treatments for conditions ranging from haematological disorders to neurological damage.

Prof Kearns, senior author of the study, who is an associate professor in the department of gynecology and obstetrics, at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore (USA) and the director of the Shady Grove Center for Preimplantation Genetics, LabCorp in Rockville (USA) explained: "There has been mounting evidence that PGS using cells from the outer layer of the blastocyst, the trophectoderm, at day five results in higher pregnancy rates than evaluating a blastomere at the cleavage stage on day three. There are also good data to suggest that there are a substantial number of genetically different cells existing in many cleavage stage embryos a condition known as 'mosaicism'. Additionally, tests performed on pregnant women to determine if genetic abnormalities exist in the developing foetus show that aneuploid cells of placental origin are relatively common in foetal blood. These observations led to our hypothesis that mechanisms may exist in the developing embryo that could cause mosaic embryos to marginalise abnormal aneuploid cells and preserve normal cells, and thus 'genetically correct' to a genetically normal embryo.

"Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) refers to the removal of a cell from a developing embryo and evaluating this cell
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Contact: Hanna Hanssen
hanna@eshre.eu
32-047-335-3381
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology
Source:Eurekalert

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