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.


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