Free Access Articles
- The clinical usefulness of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and screening (PGS) may be imperative, but it is not without its shortcomings. A number of arguments, some reasoned and others not, have been put forth against these technologies. To avoid transmission of genetic disease, patients and their doctors who may consider assisted reproduction, often choose post-conception testing with the option of termination of an affected pregnancy rather than commit to PGD. Moreover, while PGS may offer a method of selection for chromosomally normal embryos, alternative embryo selection modalities are usually favored over this technique.
- Welcome to a new year! As we write we are anticipating ending 2012 on the high of our Futures in Reproduction conference, held to celebrate the second anniversary of the award of the Nobel Prize to our founding emeritus editor, Bob Edwards. The meeting will take place at Churchill College, Cambridge in mid-December co-sponsored by RBM Online and the University of Cambridge. Speakers were asked to capture something of the radical, far-sighted, wide-ranging and challenging spirit of enquiry that characterizes Bob Edwards’ career: a strong focus on the exciting and unconventional being the highest tribute that we could pay to this remarkable man.
- The dictionary definition of personhood reads: ‘the quality or condition of being an individual person’, which does not advance our understanding of this term! Indeed, the concept of personhood has exercised philosophers for centuries, the state being variously, and disputedly, accorded the attributes of life, individuality, consciousness, agency, self-awareness, empathy, and/or the capacities to anticipate, remember, plan and choose – the capacity to exercise free will. How personhood is understood is of great significance, as, when conferred socio-legally on an individual, it carries with it privileges, protection and rights, together with responsibilities and liabilities – sometimes incorporated into the political and legal concept of citizenship.
- Bibliographic databases provide us with easy access to many more journals than was possible when each of us editors started in science. We well remember the treks around libraries, the frustration of the missing volumes and the broken photocopier, the ‘reprint request’ post cards sent and received, and the bundling up of hard copy papers for posting to our colleagues. Now, at the press of a button, papers can be located, paid for (unless freely accessible), down loaded, filed – and sometimes even read! However, with this easy access to databases and papers come problems: notably the increased risk of deliberate or accidental plagiarism (Cohen et al., 2012) and the fact of information overload.
- The placenta has to be the most complex organ in the body – genetically, functionally and structurally. It is uniquely complex genetically, comprising tissues of both maternal and fetal genotype in close apposition, as well as having a complex gene expression profile according to the parental epigenetic imprint inherited on selected genes. It is complex functionally in its sheer range of hormonal products, combining roles assigned to many or most other endocrine glands, and also in its transport systems, its physical anchoring role, and in its immunological properties.
- One of the most important achievements in human assisted reproduction in recent years is the substantial improvement in egg and embryo cryopreservation technologies. With the introduction and fine-tuning of vitrification, it is now possible to vitrify and warm unfertilized eggs at near maximal efficiency, with cell survival rates reaching 80% and even approaching 100% in some clinics. This is quite different to earlier attempts, which routinely led to the loss of a high proportion of eggs to cryodamage, regardless of egg ‘quality’.