embryo bar code

Microscopic bar codes in fertilized eggs.

Researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona have come up with an ingenious solution for keeping track of embryos and egg cells during in vitro fertilization procedures: microscopic bar codes.

These mouse eggs were tagged by injecting microscopic silicon bar codes into their perivitelline space, the gap between the cell membrane and an outer membrane called the zona pellucida, which binds sperm cells during fertilization.

The bar codes, which carry unique binary identification numbers, are biologically inert: they do not affect the rate of embryo development and are shed before the embryos implant into the wall of the uterus. The technique aims to simplify individual embryo identification, streamlining in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer procedures.

The Government of Catalonia’s Department of Health has granted permission for the technique to be developed using human eggs and embryos from fertility clinics in Spain.

The research, published in the journal Human Reproduction, may go some way to avoiding mix ups at fertility clinics.

Via New Scientist