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Embryo tests give parents the choice

. "There are more than 1000 genetic tests currently available and there is no reason why any of these couldn't be used for PDG," she says.

In the UK, PGD is regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Its spokesman John-Paul Maytum says sex selection for nonmedical purposes is not permitted in the UK because the majority of the public are against it.

The GPPC survey, which was presented at the National Genetic Policy Summit in Washington DC last week, is the first to focus specifically on the uses of PGD in IVF clinics. It revealed that almost one-quarter of US clinics use PGD to select an embryo that would be an immunological match for a sick sibling. It also showed that PGD is not error-free: 21 per cent of clinics interviewed for the study knew of cases where children had been born with diseases that PGD was supposed to eliminate.

One reason for this is that all eight cells of the embryo may not be genetically identical, due to a condition called embryo mosaicism, making it possible that the cell taken for testing may not describe the whole embryo's genetic status. Exactly how many misdiagnoses have occurred is not known, but Baruch says the survey underscores the need for better data collection and regulation to ensure the safety and efficacy of the procedure.


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Source:New Scientist


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