Bioethics News

Human embryo and its mother. Their dialogue extends to the genomic area

A key issue in the Masters in Bioethics taught at our Catholic University is the “biological status of the human embryo”, because demonstrating that the early human embryo (from the blastocyst phase) is a biological being of our species and not a uniform cluster of cells is crucial to be able to argue in its defence, and thus establish that any technique that involves destroying that embryo is bioethically unacceptable. These techniques include obtaining embryonic stem cells, so their use for biomedical experimentation is ethically very negative.

In order to support our contention that the early embryo is a living being of our species, one argument that we use is the so-called “dialogue between the human embryo and its mother”, i.e. the communication that is established between the early embryo, as early as its passage through the Fallopian tube until it implants in the maternal uterus.

As far as we are aware, this dialogue has hitherto been considered fundamentally biochemical and immunological (enlace), but now, following the publication of an interesting paper in Development (142;3210-3221,2015), which includes some experiments conducted by investigators at the Valencian Institute of Infertility (IVI), this dialogue has been extended to the genetic area.

The fact that the early human embryo can establish this biological dialogue with the uterine endometrium (in other words, with its mother) is very strong evidence for claiming that the early embryo is not a cell cluster with no organisation, but an organised biological entity capable of establishing the “embryo-maternal dialogue” that we mentioned, which is further proof that an early embryo is a living being of our species.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.