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.

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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.

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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?

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.

Jane the Virgin – TV for GCSE RS

Thank you to Year 11 students for sharing the name of a TV series, Jane the Virgin, which is available on Netflix and all about a Catholic virgin who gets accidently artificially inseminated with a baby! Sounds far-fetched but with 7.8 on IMDb it is making a lot of people laugh.

jane-the-virgin

You can catch the main actress Gina Rodriguez talking about the TV show on Ellen or some clips from the series on YouTube.

It felt like bereavement when told she was infertile

Sue Perkins, one of the co-presenters of the Great British Bake Off, was told that the brain tumour that she’s lived with for eight years had made her infertile (unable to conceive a child). Sue said it made her feel like she’d been bereaved; that someone had died.

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To make matters worse the doctor said that it wouldn’t mean so much to her, being told she’d be unable to have children, because she was a lesbian. Sue responded in an interview: “Does not a lesbian have a fallopian tube? Am I not human, and [am] I not somebody who could be a lovely, wonderful mother?”. Her interview in the Daily Mirror explains about her life with a brain tumour and how she feels about her infertility.

A lot of people think about how their lives will pan out and just presume that one day they will have children but infertility can affect anyone. The statistics are incredible.

Infertility is when a couple cannot get pregnant (conceive), despite having regular unprotected sex.

Around one in seven couples may have difficulty conceiving. This is approximately 3.5 million people in the UK.  For every 100 couples trying to conceive naturally: 84 will conceive within one year, 92 will conceive within two years and 93 will conceive within three years.