MadSci Network: Cell Biology

Re: what are the modern uses of embryo research?

Date: Mon Jun 11 15:17:15 2001
Posted By: Stephen A. Butler, Post-doc/Fellow, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of New Mexico
Area of science: Cell Biology
ID: 986851185.Cb

Dear Jo,

This is a difficult question to answer briefly (without doing your 
dissertation for you) but I can give you a few topics where embryo 
research is ongoing as a starting point for you to research further. All 
of them are particularly “ethical”. You may also consider legal ethics as 
a discussion point; some countries allow more research than others. The 
HFEA is the UK governing body on embryo research and really leads the way 
for the rest of the world; they might be a good source of information on 
what is currently permitted and therefore have information on ongoing 
research. You may consider not just writing about the benefits of these 
advances but discuss the problems too. Watch the movie/film GATTICA. 

Assisted fertility:
	Optimum stage at which a fertilized embryo is transferred back to 
the mother. “Healthy embryos” which ones should you use when you have 6 in 
a petri dish. Benefits and possible disadvantages of different IVF 
procedures such as ICSI.
IVF – In vitro fertilization
ICSI – Intra cytoplasmic sperm injection

	All research on cloning has a large element of embryo research and 
you don’t get much more ethically controversial. You must have heard of 
Dolly the sheep. They are now trying to bring extinct animals back from 
extinction, using embryos of non extinct relatives (mammoth DNA - elephant 
embryo)- Jurassic Park!!!!

Prenatal diagnosis:
	Removal of one or more of the cells of an early embryo to perform 
karyotyping and/or genetic analysis before transplanting the remaining 
cells of an embryo back to the mother. Thus eliminating the risk of Down’s 
syndrome and other genetic abnormalities. Huge future prospects once the 
genes responsible for certain diseases are identified.

Hope this gives you some good areas to start from, good luck with the 


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