July 9, 2013
The first test – tube baby who was screened for genetic defects was created using a low – cost procedure for the in vitro fertilization process. This IVF procedure was performed at a Pennsylvania hospital.
The baby born was named Connor Levy. Levy was part of a study meant to justify next – generation genetic screening (NGGS) to broaden the use of this procedure.
NGGS is “routinely used by clinical diagnostic laboratories to test for both common and rare single-gene genetic disorders.”
DNA sequencing designed to identify chromosome abnormalities and specific gene defects within the embryo before it is implanted into the uterus was used. Only 30% of implanted embryos are successful; while other genetic screening methods could take over in the near future, this cost – effective method will remain.
Dagan Wells, lead researcher and professor of the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Oxford, said : “We can do this at a cost which is about a half to two-thirds of what current chromosome screening costs are. If further randomized trials confirm this, we could reach a point where there is a very strong economic argument that this should be offered very widely – perhaps to the majority of IVF patients.”
Wells went on to say: “Many of the embryos produced during infertility treatments have no chance of becoming a baby because they carry lethal genetic abnormalities. Next-generation sequencing improves our ability to detect these abnormalities and helps us identify the embryos with the best chances of producing a viable pregnancy.”
Wells will present these findings at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) annual conference.
ESHRE is a collaboration of scientists that promote:
• the understanding of reproductive biology and embryology
• research and the subsequent dissemination of research findings to the public, scientists, clinicians and patient associations
• inform politicians and policy makers in Europe
Last month, the UK National Health Services (NHS) announced the 3-parent IVF with a draft of new regulations to be approved by the British Parliament.
Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for the NHS said : “Mitochondrial disease, including heart disease, liver disease, loss of muscle co-ordination and other serious conditions like muscular dystrophy, can have a devastating impact on the people who inherit it. Scientists have developed groundbreaking new procedures that could stop these diseases being passed on, bringing hope to many families seeking to prevent their future children inheriting them. It’s only right that we look to introduce this lifesaving treatment as soon as we can.”
This new genetic manipulative process will develop from DNA of 3 participants to specifically target and prevent mitochondrial diseases.
This genetic process involves transferring genetic material from the nucleus of an egg or embryo from one that is diseased to one that is healthy. This will prevent the inheritance of negative mitochondria.
It is estimated that 1 in 6,500 babies are born with a diagnosable mitochondrial disorder.
The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF) states that mutations are the cause of mitochondrial failure and that depending on the devastating effects, symptoms can include:
• Loss of motor control and muscle movement
• Heart disease
• Respiratory issues
• Vision and hearing loss
According to the NHS: “Opponents of these types of treatments cite what can be broadly summarized as the ‘slippery slope’ argument; this suggests that once a precedent has been set for altering the genetic material of an embryo prior to implantation in the womb, it is impossible to predict how these types of techniques might be used in the future. Similar concerns were raised, however, when IVF treatments were first used during the 1970s; today IVF is generally accepted.”
Endeavors into creating super humans have been the underlying mission of eugenics.
The eugenics movement is a theory that with the use of selective breeding, the best genetic material will be passed down through the human line, creating:
• Longer life span
• Genetic resistance/immunity to disease
• Attractive physical features
• Great physical strength
This new development furthers the idea of designer babies that uses preimplantation genetic diagnosis to preselect desired genetic qualities of a child in utero and seeks to remove unwanted possible defects through genetic engineering.
By selecting traits such as the baby’s sex, eye and hair color, whether they will be fat or thin, the parents can make sure that their baby is intelligent, athletic and has the proper cosmetic traits desired.
Advancements in genetics have produced the possibility to scan an embryo for “defects” as well as a microchip that can test for more than 1,500 genetic traits including:
• Heart disease
• Seasonal affective disorder
• Susceptibility to alcohol or nicotine
• Addictive personality
• Lactose intolerance
• Intellectual capabilities
This new vision for the future of reproduction could devastate the natural gene pool as well as control “evolution” through the genetic line; as well as increase genetic modifications as part of our culture.