Baby Screened to be Cancer Gene Free

Suddenly in my search in the net I fond this article wrote by Emily Singer, I thought to myself: is it right, or wrong? Can this kind of genetic manipulation bring other consequences to the child? Making knock-outs some times are very problematic because we are “touching” in our genes, and sometimes complications are caused by these techniques. This is the main problem of Genetic Therapy and genetic manipulation, and I even don’t talk about ethic problematic that our friends from USA are experts! In my opinion it’s a step in front, but if you want to know if I take this option to a future child of mine, my answer is no. And you?

The first baby in Britain to have been screened as an embryo for a genetic variation, called BRCA1, which greatly raises risk of breast cancer, has been born, according to recent news report. Because several members of the infant’s father’s family had been diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, the parents decided to undergo IVF and screen their embryos for the mutation before implanting them.

The decision was a controversial one, raising arguments that this type of screening is one step on a slippery slope towards eugenics. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, as the procedure is called, has traditionally been limited to genetic disorders known to be fatal. But as the number of known disease-linked genes grows, so do the options for testing. BRCA1 raises a women’s risk of developing breast cancer to about 80 percent, but does not guarantee that she will develop the disease.

The event has garnered extensive press in the UK, where in vitro fertilization is highly regulated; the governing body that oversees fertility only recently voted to allow this kind of screening. But in the US, where reproductive technologies are largely unregulated, such cases may already be occurring regularly. A fertility specialist I spoke with for a review published in the March 2007 issue of TR, said his lab had tested embryos for more than 150 diseases or risk genes, including the BRCA1 variant.

Little data exists on the rates of this type of testing in the U.S., one of the few developed countries with so little regulation. Sex-selection, for example, is not outlawed, though most fertility clinics say they consider it ethically questionable and decline such requests. Any disease or trait for which a genetic risk factor has been identified–one that predicts athletic prowess, for example–could theoretically be screened for, and the number is growing daily.

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2 Responses to “Baby Screened to be Cancer Gene Free”

  1. varda Says:

    No way, not my baby. Nowadays, the cutting edge technology scares me to death.

  2. andrefmartins Says:

    I know that kind of feeling. I don’t know why but I always think that no one make science for bad proposes. It’s an innocent thought I know but we (scientists) look for science as a goddess or something like that. Yesterday for example I watched a documentary that showed robotic experiments. One of the robots created had a magnificent electronics (like cerebral electronics) that were created for several functions and decisions (yes, robots can actually take decisions!), until now it’s all ok nothing special. What freaked me out was the rest of the documentary, because suddenly the robot that was created to make fixed movements and functions, acquired itself other functions for which was not scheduled. The advanced electronics interacts similarly as a brain! Robots thinking like autonomous individuals… That was very scary! No?


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