Early pronuclear transfer given the green light

This is one of those new stories which links to numerous school subjects, and reiterates the importance of concentrating and trying your best in everything you study and learn about.

image embryo

In GCSE Religious Studies we investigate medical ethics in our Unit 8 course and specifically about transplant surgery and fertility treatment. It is the latter which links to ‘early pronuclear transfer’. It might be our science knowledge that is going to assist us in understanding this one!

Early pronuclear transfer involves removing the parents’ key genetic material from an embryo within hours of fertilisation, leaving behind the woman’s faulty mitochondria.
The parental DNA, which contains all the key genes responsible for character and appearance, is then transferred into a donor woman’s embryo, which has its nucleus removed but contains healthy mitochondria.

three parents image

The BBC reports on this developing IVF technique which will help women who don’t want to pass on a genetic disorder to a healthy baby. It made the headlines because there will be 3 people providing DNA for the embryo and baby. What do you think religions will make of all this?

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A Breakthrough in Growing Embryos

Scientists are excited about their findings after leaving embryos to grow past the normal moment they’d be implanted into a womb. There is a legal limit on how long you can allow an embryo to develop outside the womb, 14 days, but even that might soon change as scientists argue it should be extended so they can discover more.

It used to be up to a week that scientists would study a fertilised egg before it was implanted into the womb, but with the extra days scientists have discovered many things about the early stage of development which often results in developmental defects and failure to implant. So all this extra information that they’ve been able to glean should help them reduce infertility in the future.

embryo -a new organism in the earliest stage of development. In humans this is defined as the developing organism from the fourth day after fertilization to the end of the eighth week. 

foetus – a prenatal human (before birth) which is between its embryonic state and its birth.

Remember that at 24 weeks of pregnancy in England a foetus can no longer be aborted. Meanwhile Catholics believe that from the moment of conception a new life has been created and Muslims think that even though abortion is wrong if the mother’s life is at risk then up to 120 days the mother’s life has more value than the foetus.