China will soon begin the world’s most advanced research into test tube baby technology. The project aims at developing the fourth generation of this technology, which will help women whose eggs are not healthy or strong enough to conceive, experts revealed Friday.
“The technological preparations for the research are now in hand, and the actual research work will start soon,” said Guo Yinglu, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Guo is the leading expert with the project, which is being sponsored by the Procreation and Inheritance Treatment Center of the Beijing Medical University’s hospital.
The fourth generation technology that the project aims at developing involves the removal of the karyon, or nucleus, from an egg with poor-quality serum that cannot as a consequence sustain the karyon. The karyon would then be put into an egg with healthy serum that is without its own karyon. This will ensure that the original karyon will have enough sustenance to develop.
The egg would then be exposed to and hopefully fertilized by the sperm of the original woman’s husband in a test tube to form a germ cell that will then be put into the original woman’s womb.
The karyon carries the genes, which means that the resulting child will have no relation to the woman who provides the egg with the healthy serum, Guo added.
The original three forms of test tube baby technology are widely used in China. Today, more than 80 hospitals help couples have children in this way, compared to just 20 last year.
In provincial-level hospitals, the technology’s success rate is 25 percent, whereas the international standard is 30 percent.
Already 4,000 women have given birth with the help of test tube baby technology in China.
Test tube baby technology was first adopted in Britain in 1978. So far it has gone through three stages of development.
First-generation test tube baby technology is for women who cannot get pregnant because of problems with their Fallopian tubes.
This technology does not involve much human intervention. It is simply a natural process that takes place inside a test tube.
China’s first test tube baby was born in 1988 in Beijing using this first-generation technology.
The second-generation technology involves injecting a single sperm into an egg. This technique is designed to help men who cannot father children naturally because of a low sperm count.
However, injecting sperm into an egg is risky as it can lead to deformed babies.
The third-generation technology injects the sperm but screens the embryo to make sure it is healthy.
Fourth-generation technology, for which research is just beginning, will contribute a great deal to the technology.
Researchers hope the latest technology will help a great many more of the country’s would-be parents have their own healthy children.
(China Daily 03/02/2001)