Unnatural selection

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.

  • Cases of breast cancer that occur when there is no family history or only a few cases in elderly relatives are known as sporadic breast cancer.Hereditary breast cancer is different from those of sporadic breast cancer .The increased risk of breast cancer for those with a family history may be caused by inherited factors (genes) like BRCA1 and BRCA2,[both the genes protects breast cells from developing cancer. Certain mutations in BRCA1 stop the gene working properly and therefore make it more likely that breast cancer will develop],or a combination of inherited factors and lifestyle like no breast feeding or unmarraied women.Having an increased genetic risk by mutation of these two genes can lead to breast cancer developing even at an earlier age. This, in turn, can have an impact on raising your family. so is it today possible to do BRCA1 gene test for people that know they carry a specific mutation that predisposes them to suffer from breast cancer.It is a real fact that most Breast cancers develop sporadically and not related with a familial history or heriditary BRCA genes. It is thought that less than 5% of people those develop breast or bowel cancer do so because of an inherited fault. Unless there is a strong family history of breast cancer in you it is unlikely that your child will inherited a gene that increases the risk of developing cancer. so splicing off BRCA1 gene before embryo may be a advancement for medical technology but certainly not revolutionary breakthrough. Such genetic splicing off a single bad gene was done earlier.