Research highlight

Medical research: A fertile hope

Nature Communications

December 5, 2012

The specific mechanisms that contribute to errors in human embryo development are described this week in Nature Communications. Since the approaches adopted in this work use technology that has no known adverse outcomes on embryo viability, the authors suggest that their findings could hold promise for reducing the inadvertent transfer of chromosomally abnormal embryos that are prone to miscarriage, while improving in vitro fertilisation success.

Recent advances in imaging and molecular and genetic analyses have greatly increased our understanding of the pathways that are involved in normal human embryo development as well as the factors that contribute to the arrest of embryonic development. Renee Reijo Pera and colleagues use time-lapse imaging to study embryonic development in a unique set of human embryos that are representative of embryos typically obtained in the in vitro fertilisation clinic. They find that chromosomally abnormal embryos exhibit diverse cell cycle parameters that may contribute to arrested development.

This work provides new insights into the relationship between known cell cycle parameters and the composition of chromosomes in human embryos, which could prove useful in improving current in vitro fertilization techniques.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms2249

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