Volume 11, Issue 4 Looking Forward: “Ask Not What…..”

Ken Drury, Ph.D., Editor 

Have you enjoyed the Election Activities taking place over the last two years? Did you get the “Change” you were looking forward to? Even if you haven’t and didn’t, keep looking forward and prepare yourselves for the challenges that lie ahead.

That’s just what you wanted to hear, right? Even though you may be thinking I’ve heard it all before, I would like to focus on the challenges that lie ahead for all ART Laboratories and laboratory personnel.

As each of you know, IVF used to consist solely of finding eggs, washing sperm and placing both in a common culture container, and yes, it was a big deal. Hearts palpitated when observing two pronuclear zygotes and symmetrical cell division was a thing of beauty (come to think of it, that still happens and still is). However, we now specialize more and more into areas that not only enhance our abilities to clinically treat expanding patient infertility problems, but to also utilize the basic science knowledge that is rapidly accumulating at an ever increasing rate to help us understand (and maybe control) the earliest workings of the human embryonic genome which of course determines embryo developmental capacity as well as stem cell production.

Embryologists can now employ various micro-manipulation skills to by-pass millions of years of evolutionary fine tuning to bring about fertilization using sperm taken directly from testicular tissue. Who knew and when did they know it that this could be done? Lasers dual at nanometer wavelengths to create passage ways for embryos to escape the confinement of captive Zonae Pellucida in order to implant into a receptive life sustaining endometrium. How cool is that? Computers program sperm to intersect with eggs housed in micro-fluidic chambers then supply recombinant growth factors in order to squash apoptotic decay. DNA micro-array devices scan the whole amplified genome of a single cell and predict life at 50 years of age. Then there’s Deep Sequencing detection of micro-inhibitory RNA (maybe it really is an RNA world?).

We carry around cells in the ART laboratory on a routine bases that, if manipulated properly, have the capability of building the body anew, and they can be stored at -196°C for a thousand years. With all these capabilities at hand now, what will embryologists and ART scientists be doing in the next 10, 20, 30, 100 years?

We really don’t know the answers to all those questions yet, but every time embryos come out of the incubator, there is the potential to know or learn or understand a bit more than we did before; we can look forward to that almost every day! Ask not what… but what will.

In this issue of the Journal, you can also look forward to our featured peer-reviewed article by James Stachecki, Ph.D. and Jacques Cohen, Ph.D. entitled “S3Vitrification System: A Novel Approach to Blastocyst Freezing”. FYI: S3 is a play on words. Said fast, it sounds like “Ice cubed” and stands for Safe; Simple; Successful. We’ll let you be the judge.

Dr. Geetha Venkat, and colleagues of The London Women’s Clinic in the UK, report on their results using partial assisted hatching techniques to determine if this enhances implantation rates of frozen thawed embryos.

If you have burning results that need to be published in The Journal of Clinical Embryology™, just fire up your laser pens and submit your manuscript at the speed of light to embryospeak@bellsouth.net. When the embryo speaks, embryologists listen!

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