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Archive for January, 2009

Unnatural selection

9 Jan, 09 | by Dr Dean Jenkins

The first UK baby selected as an embryo to be free of the breast cancer 1, early onset (BRCA1) gene, has been born at University College London.

Although this has made the BBC news it is not a new therapy just a medical first for this condition in this country. Embryo selection for single gene defects is not new and the UK’s Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) has licensed over 60 genetic conditions for preimplantation genetic diagnosis. I wonder why this particular story was selected as newsworthy?

Reports of various conditions succesfully screened before embryo implantation are being published in journals and I’m sure it won’t be long before one is submitted to BMJ Case Reports. I hope it won’t be unique simply because it is the first for a particular condition (which is more like medical bird watching, stamp collecting or train spotting). What would be more interesting is if it described facets of the counselling of the family or a discussion of the ethics since that is where the selection really takes place.

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