Thursday, April 26, 2007

First designer babies to beat breast cancer
Mark Henderson, Science Editor
April 26,2007

Two couples whose families have been ravaged by breast cancer are to become the first to screen embryos to prevent them having children at risk of the disease, The Times has learnt.

Tests will allow the couples to take the unprecedented step of selecting embryos free from a gene that carries a heightened risk of the cancer but does not always cause it. The move will reignite controversy over the ethics of embryo screening.

An application to test for the BRCA1 gene was submitted yesterday by Paul Serhal, of University College Hospital, London. It is expected to be approved within months as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has already agreed in principle.

Opponents say that the test is unethical because it involves destroying some embryos that would never contract these conditions if allowed to develop into children. Even those that did become ill could expect many years of healthy life first.
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