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PGD Technology Offers More Than Designer Babies
Date:3/31/2009

ty was found. PGD allows diagnosis before implantation, while the embryo is still in the laboratory. Healthy embryos can be selected for transfer, well before the pregnancy is established.

Embryos that are tested using PGD are produced via conventional IVF techniques. For IVF, a woman is placed on fertility drugs to produce multiple eggs. When mature, the eggs are removed from the ovary with a needle, under anesthesia. The eggs are inseminated with sperm and the resulting embryos are cultured for several days in the IVF laboratory. For PGD, on the third day of embryo development, at the 6-8 cell stage, one or two cells are removed from the embryo. The cells are analyzed for chromosome count, specific DNA sequences, or markers linked to a specific inherited defect. After analysis, normal embryos are transferred directly into the uterus--the normal site for implantation--using a small catheter placed through the cervix. Embryo transfer is a simple procedure that requires a few minutes of office time.

For illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and other single gene defects where the DNA mutation is limited to a specific location on a gene, PGD can diagnose affected embryos. After the biopsy of one or two cells, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to amplify the DNA sequence of interest. The normal and abnormal genetic sequences in the DNA can be amplified and tagged with specific probes, revealing which embryos are affected by the mutation. In circumstances where the specific mutation cannot be identified, genetic markers located near the mutation of interest can be used to identify affected embryos.

Using a technique known as Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization (FISH), PGD can also be used to count the chromosomes in the cell removed from an embryo. A normal cell has a complement of 23 pairs of chromosomes (22 pairs plus a pair of sex chromosomes: 2 X chromosomes for a female or an X and
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SOURCE Pacific Fertility Center
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