Researchers in China have developed a new non-invasive method for detecting genetic defects in IVF embryos that could improve the chances of successful IVF for some patients.
At present, an IVF embryo at risk of genetic abnormalities can be sequenced before implantation, but this requires removing a cell from the dividing embryo, a process which can damage some embryos.
This new research, which studied 70 fertilised eggs from volunteer egg donors, uses a technique called MALBAC (Multiple Annealing and Looping Based Amplification Cycles) to sequence left-over fragments of cells from the early developing embryo, known as polar bodies. The polar bodies and egg pronucleus (the nucleus of the woman's egg during the process of fertilisation) together contain four copies of a woman's genes. The research team was able to show that the polar body sequences can be used to deduce the sequence of the egg pronucleus.