Many people, finding themselves at the end of their reproductive journey, decide to donate their extra embryos "to science." We don't hear all that much about what becomes of these embryos — what scientific advancements they enabled, what policies they influenced, what practices they helped to curtail.
Here is one such story.
Twenty-five embryos were volunteered into a study using CRISPR, a controversial gene-editing technique. (For a bit of background on the science and politics of CRISPR, see this round-up.) All the couples who donated their embryos gave informed consent. They were told about the research project, were given an opportunity to receive counselling about their decision, and agreed that any results from their contribution could be published in scientific journals. No money changed hands for the embryos.
Some of the findings generated by studying these embryos ended up in one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals, Nature, in this study about the role of a particular gene (POU5F1) in early embryological development.
But those embryos went on to play a role in a second... see more