Early Human Embryos Make "Mistakes" as a Matter of Survival, Could be Key
to Understanding Stem Cell Development
Bedford, MA, April 07, 2010 --(PR.com)-- Early human embryos may be naturally prone to making
mistakes in chromosome allocation to new cells, according to a report by Bedford Stem Cell Research
Foundation scientists. Their new findings indicate rapid increases in total genetic information may be
more important to embryo survival than accurate allocation of genetic information to each new cell.
These first time data come from 8-Cell stage human embryos that have been examined for expression of
all human genes in a project designed to understand how human eggs remodel genetic information to
produce new cells with the potential to become all the cells in the body, in other words, how embryos
give rise to Embryonic Stem Cells.
The recent research focused on how early embryo cells multiply. Scientists at the Bedford Stem Cell
Research Foundation (www.bedfordresearch.org) compiled data from three prior reports by other
laboratories that examined in unprecedented detail the 3,803 genes (out of about 25,000, organized into
23 chromosomes) that are involved in the multiplication of adult human cells. To multiply, cells must
grow in size, duplicate their chromosomes from 23 to 46, then divide the chromosomes equally into two
new daughter cells. This is the process by which the body makes billions of cells every day, including
blood cells, intestinal cells, hair, and sperm.
When the subset of 3,803 cell division genes in the adult human cells were compared with those
expressed in the human embryo (at the 8-cell development stage, a stage every human embryo progresses
through about day three of development), Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation scientists discovered
that key genes involved in slowing the process of cell division to ensure the integrity of new
chromosomes were silent in the 8-Cell embryo. Moreover, genes known to push cell division faster were
detected at much higher levels in the embryo cells. T