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Scientists from Spain’s Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), along with colleagues from the Spanish National Research Council, have successfully developed an identification system in which mouse embryos and oocytes (egg cells) are physically tagged with microscopic silicon bar code labels. They expect to try it out on human embryos and oocytes soon.
The purpose of the system is to streamline in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer procedures.
There were some problems with embryos being able to free themselves from the labels when they shed the zona pellucida. The scientists are therefore now looking at modifying the surface of the labels, so they could be mounted on the outside of the covering, instead of being injected into the perivitelline space.
Already, the Government of Catalonia’s Department of Health has granted enthusiastic 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.
The embryo exits the zona pellucida before entering the uterus, so the bar code would be shed at that point.