Artificial Sex Selection in Today’s Fertility Clinics Essay

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Artificial Sex Selection in Today’s Fertility Clinics

Thesis Statement:

The method of sorting cryopreserved sperm for the purpose of separating the X and Y chromosomes has been an ongoing process for many years. However, recently this method has become a modern preconception technique in which numerous applications for safe and effective selection procedures now exist in clinical practices. I have chosen to explore how currently these uses have broadened to areas where many of us might see as a moral or ethical issue. These uses might even be linked to a larger scheme of pre-embryonic chromosome attenuation such as the Human Genome Project.

General History of the Sperm Sorting Technique

As we approach the new Millennium,
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The first type involves segregating sperm on the basis of physical or kinetic features such as size and weight. A preferable technique is one that relies on distinctive nuclear characteristics unique to either X or Y-chromosomes bearing sperm (9). It is thought that the most logical and cost effective way to separate X and Y sperm on a large scale would be to use a sperm surface marker that could be detected with an antibody (3). However, a surface marker distinguishing X and Y sperm has yet to be found.

Sex Selection of spermatozoa by chromatin differences is the reliance on distinctive nuclear characteristics unique to either X or Y. This technique has been shown to achieve significant enriched populations of X or Y chromosome bearing sperm (9). This is because X-chromosomes contain 2.8 percent more DNA than the Y chromosomes (2). With this information, researchers at the Genetics and IVF Institute in Fairfax, Virginia have announced a sperm-sorting technique that almost guarantees that a girl will be conceived(2 ). This is an improvement over the natural 50/50 chance of conceiving a girl, which would for example decrease the odds for sex-linked disorders.

Sperm Sorting Technique

The current technique used in the separation is to treat the sperm with a fluorescent marker, Hoechst 33,342, which attaches in proportion to the amount of DNA present in the sperm head. Then the sperm are put

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