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Woman conceives 'designer baby' free from breast cancer

Doctors have helped a couple conceive the first British baby guaranteed to be free from hereditary breast cancer.
A woman has conceived the UK's first 'designer baby' that is guaranteed to be free from hereditary breast cancer.

Doctors used screening techniques to reject six embryos that carried the cancer gene in favour of "healthy" ones that would ensure the child would not contract breast cancer.

The 27-year-old woman who did not wish to be named decided to undergo the procedure because her husband tested positive for the gene and his grandmother, mother, sister and cousin had battled the disease.

She said: "For the past three generations, every single woman in my husband's family has had breast cancer, as early as 27 and 29.

"I thought this was something I had to try because, if we had a daughter with the gene and she was ill, I couldn't look her in the face and say I didn't try."

The woman and her husband decided to go through IVF treatment even though they are fertile, in order to create embryos that could be screened.

Tests on the 11 embryos were conducted when they were three days old, and involved extracting a single cell that was screened.

Six embryos were found carrying the cancer gene, while two of the "healthy" cells were implanted and two were frozen for future use.

The couple's doctor, Paul Serhal, medical director of the Assisted Conception Unit at University College London Hospital, said: "Women now have the option of having this treatment to avoid the potentially guilty feeling of passing on this genetic abnormality to a child. This gives us the chance to eradicate this problem in families."

More than 2,000 breast cancer cases are diagnosed in Britain each year and are thought to be caused by either the BRCA-1 of BRCA-2 genes, which can both be detected in embryos.

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i think this shud be an option offered to all people with hereditary diseases such as cancer it cud lead to a big decrease in this cruel disease!
by isla100 9th Nov 2009, 3:46pm