I recently came across some very interesting articles, which I thought I would share with my readers and friends. While the articles are a bit old – a couple of years as of this posting – I still am delighted with the scientific discoveries.
The first one is about how human eggs ‘flash with a bright light’ at the moment of conception, ‘highlighting the very moment when life begins.‘ A literal spark of life!
Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film.
An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.
Scientists had seen the phenomenon occur in other animals but it is the first time is has been also shown to happen in humans.
How awesome is that? And seriously, how sci-fi is that to imagine? In my head, I see a a mini movie, complete with fwaaaaaaahhhh~~~ sound effect, the moment conception happens. And it seems to me very fitting, because how miraculous is life? How wonderous to behold. (And come on, it’s loads more fun to imagine it happens that way.)
That’s not all though. Early stage embryos with cellular abnormalities can still develop into healthy babies!
Abnormal cells in the early embryo are not necessarily a sign that a baby will be born with a birth defect such as Down’s syndrome, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Leuven, Belgium. In a study published today (29 March) in the journal Nature Communications, scientists show that abnormal cells are eliminated and replaced by healthy cells, repairing – and in many cases completely fixing – the embryo.
This is exciting to read about. But how did they start studying this?
Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, the study’s senior author, was inspired to carry out the research following her own experience when pregnant with her second child. At the time, a CVS test found that as many as a quarter of the cells in the placenta that joined her and her developing baby were abnormal: could the developing baby also have abnormal cells? When Professor Zernicka-Goetz spoke to geneticists about the potential implications, she found that very little was understood about the fate of embryos containing abnormal cells and about the fate of these abnormal cells within the developing embryos.
Fortunately for Professor Zernicka-Goetz, her son, Simon, was born healthy.
Motherhood and science resulting in awesome discoveries? I’m loving this more and more!
“I am one of the growing number of women having children over the age of 40 – I was pregnant with my second child when I was 44. I know how lucky I was and how happy I felt when Simon was born healthy.”
“Many expectant mothers have to make a difficult choice about their pregnancy based on a test whose results we don’t fully understand. What does it mean if a quarter of the cells from the placenta carry a genetic abnormality – how likely is it that the child will have cells with this abnormality, too? This is the question we wanted to answer. Given that the average age at which women have their children is rising, this is a question that will become increasingly important.”
Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, a senior study author from the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge
“In fact, abnormal cells with numerical and/or structural anomalies of chromosomes have been observed in as many as 80-90 per cent of human early-stage embryos following in vitro fertilization and CSV tests may expose some degree of these abnormalities.”
Professor Thierry Voet from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK, and the University of Leuven, Belgium, another senior author of the paper
This is why the phrase ‘the science is settled’ is, to me, a very anti-science statement. It leads to no discoveries, no new findings – how boring. Science is never settled – there’s always new things to discover, as our technological capability increases, and further, the world is an ever-changing place – we will find new things, observe and discover more and more fascinating new facts and interesting details about our world and life. How exciting is that!? May we always continue to discover!