Embryo screening new test will cut risk of genetic diseases in IVF babies

IVF screening technique



A new test to screen embryos will help to identify genetically determined conditions in IVF babies.

Couples who are most at risk of serious genetic diseases who are undergoing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) will be able to be screened.

It will allow the number of diseases which embryos can be tested for to be extended dramatically - including muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis.

Scientists will announce the technique today at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Prague.


IVF embryo screening issues

The technique - pre-implantation genetic haplotyping (PGH) has been pioneered by scientists at Guy's Hospital in London.

Currently PGD is available to treat a relatively small number of conditions, including Huntingdon's Disease.
It is hoped that the technique can be extended to test for conditions including Fragile X Syndrome, Myotonic Dystrophy and Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Peter Braude, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at King's College London hailed it as a significant development.

In the future it may be possible to extend the use of genetic tests to detect non-carriers' embryos.
A representative from Comment on Reproductive Ethics warned against further extensions of screening.

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