Feeds

IVF clinics may tag embryos

My first RFID

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The UK body which regulates IVF treatment is considering tagging embryos to prevent the sort of fiasco which saw mixed-race twins born to white parents after the wrong sperm was used to fertilise the mother's eggs.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) now wants to label all material - sperm, eggs and embryos - with barcodes or RFID tags, New Scientist reports. The plan is intended to eliminate the possibility of mix-ups which are still possible even under the "double-witnessing" protocol which "requires an embryologist to ask a colleague to witness and document every procedure in which an error could occur".

The barcoding procedure - currently under development by IMT International in Chester - uses cameras built into IVF clinic benches to scan a barcode on the bottom of dishes containing eggs. A computer system alerts staff if, for instance, the eggs do not match the patient.

The RFID alternative likewise sounds an alarm when a mismatch occurs. The RFID chips are embedded in the bottom of dishes and "if the samples don’t match [the patient], or you bring together two things that shouldn’t be in the same work area, the alarms will sound," explains Steve Troup, an embryologist on the HFEA’s advisory group on safety and new technologies.

The HFEA will, however, need to be certain that the RFID technology is not damaging to embryos. Research Instruments, a Falmouth-based outfit developing an IVF RDIF tagging system, has tested the technology on mouse embryos without apparent adverse effects. Troup reckons RFID will be safe for in vitro procedures and notes: "The tags only transmit when activated by an external signal. And they work at the low frequency of 13.5 megahertz compared with 900 to 1900 megahertz used by cellphones."

Nonetheless, more testing is planned. Troup’s own research team at the University of Liverpool will further investigate the effects of radio waves on mouse embryos, while Research Instruments is looking into the field strength generated by the RFID tags when active. ®

Related storieds

EU consults on RFID technology
Parent power detags US schoolkids
EU biometric RFID scheme unworkable, says EU tech report

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.