Indan Journal of Medical Research Indan Journal of Medical Research Indan Journal of Medical Research Indan Journal of Medical Research
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 140  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 106-111

Sourcing human embryos for embryonic stem cell lines: Problems & perspectives

Trivector Embryology Support Academy, Mumbai, India

Correspondence Address:
Rajvi H Mehta
111-115, Marathon Max, Hedgewar Chowk, L.B.S. Marg, Mulund (West), Mumbai 400 080, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 25673530

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The ability to successfully derive human embryonic stem cells (hESC) lines from human embryos following in vitro fertilization (IVF) opened up a plethora of potential applications of this technique. These cell lines could have been successfully used to increase our understanding of human developmental biology, transplantation medicine and the emerging science of regenerative medicine. The main source for human embryos has been 'discarded' or 'spare' fresh or frozen human embryos following IVF. It is a common practice to stimulate the ovaries of women undergoing any of the assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and retrieve multiple oocytes which subsequently lead to multiple embryos. Of these, only two or maximum of three embryos are transferred while the rest are cryopreserved as per the decision of the couple. In case a couple does not desire to 'cryopreserve' their embryos then all the embryos remaining following embryo transfer can be considered 'spare' or if a couple is no longer in need of the 'cryopreserved' embryos then these also can be considered as 'spare'. But, the question raised by the ethicists is, "what about 'slightly' over-stimulating a woman to get a few extra eggs and embryos? The decision becomes more difficult when it comes to 'discarded' embryos. As of today, the quality of the embryos is primarily assessed based on morphology and the rate of development mainly judged by single point assessment. Despite many criteria described in the literature, the quality assessment is purely subjective. The question that arises is on the decision of 'discarding' embryos. What would be the criteria for discarding embryos and the potential 'use' of ESC derived from the 'abnormal appearing' embryos? This paper discusses some of the newer methods to procure embryos for the derivation of embryonic stem cell lines which will respect the ethical concerns but still provide the source material.

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