Friday, November 24, 2006

Metabolomics - new technique may improve pre-implantation screening of embryos

An emerging medical technology called metabolomics may help to improve the results of screening embryos prior to implantation. Embryos are screened based primarily on how regular their shape is and the rate at which cells are dividing. Studies have shown that as many as half of embryos that pass this screening are actually abnormal and unlikely to develop if implanted. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a more involved screening method that requires extracting a single cell from the developing embryo and subjecting it to tests for genetic disorders.

Metabolomics may identify genetic disorders by examining the byproducts of cellular activity without having to extract any cells from the developing embryo. By precisely anaylzying these molecular "waste" products the health of the cells can be determined to a higher degree of accuracy. A very good, though rather technical, description of the technique is over in the docinthemachine blog.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Baby born from embryo frozen for 13 years

From Spain comes news of a birth of a baby from an embryo that was frozen for 13 years. The embryo was surplus from an IVF procedure done 13 years ago. Under Spain's adopt-an-embryo program another unnamed woman received the embryo and carried it to term, giving birth to a healthy baby. This is believed to be the record for the oldest embryo to result in a succesful birth.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Popularity of procreation vacations

Couples who are "fertility challenged" are opting for more romantic vacations dubbed "procreation vacations" in the hopes of getting pregnant sooner. These aren't couples with diagnosed fertility issues. These are people whose hectic schedules and stress interfere with babymaking. Hotel chains and the travel industry are marketing more to these couples, offering romantic getaways with couples-oriented activities, counselors, and even traditional fertility food menus and elixirs.

MSN Travel had an article about this trend. There were some intereting sounding getaways mentioned, particularly the one offered by Westin. But there is an incredible statistic given in the article, that 61.8 million U.S. couples took a romantic vacation last year. That's a amazing number, especially considering that according to census data in 2002 there were only 57 million married couples in the U.S. and by 2005, according to the American Community Survey there were only 52 million married couples in the U.S. So, as much as the travel industry would like to impress us with this trend they should quote some numbers that are at least realistic.