Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews


Print Page Follow BioNews on Twitter BioNews RSS feed

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook







Preimplantation genetic diagnosis for cancer risk during IVF is feasible, study indicates

09 July 2012

By Sarah Guy

Appeared in BioNews 664

It is now scientifically feasible to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) during IVF to screen embryos for genes associated with high cancer risk, scientists say.

European researchers presented the results of a major study - as yet the largest in this area of research - at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology's annual meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. They conclude that the technique can be used reliably so that men and women who carry cancer-causing mutations in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes do not pass them on to their children. Female carriers of a mutation in either gene have a 60 to 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer over their lifetimes, and a risk of 30 to 60 percent (BRCA1) or five to 20 percent (BRCA2) for ovarian cancer

The PGD procedure allows doctors to identify which embryos carry these genes, and therefore only implant ones that do not, thereby removing the mutation from the family tree.

The study looked at 145 cycles of IVF in 70 couples where one partner carried one of the BRCA mutations. A total of 717 embryos were created for these couples and grown for three days - when they would have comprised eight cells - at which point one cell was extracted and tested for the presence of a BRCA mutation.

Overall, 43 percent of the embryos were affected, while 40 percent did not carry the mutations and were considered viable. Using the unaffected embryos, the couples achieved a 41 percent pregnancy rate, or 42 pregnancies in 40 women in total.

'We now believe that this technique offers an established option for those couples seeking to avoid the risk of inherited BRCA in their children', said Professor William Verpoest, from the Vrije University in Brussels, who presented the study.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Stuart Lavery, director of IVF at Hammersmith Hospital in London said that the study, published months earlier in the journal Human Reproduction, was 'quite an important paper'. He said that knowing that removing '12.5 percent of the whole genetic mass of the embryo' for testing did not to affect the embryo's viability was 'hugely reassuring'.

In his presentation Professor Verpoest recognised the debates on the ethics of using PGD to screen for BRCA mutations. Cancers associated with the BRCA mutations occur late in life and therefore options for treating them are constantly improving. 'Controversy will still remain over the ethical acceptability of PGD for a susceptible, yet preventable condition', he said.

 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

14 October 2013 - by James Heather 
We had almost made it through the speakers when it happened, just before the break. It was the last speaker who did it. It was Dr Joyce Harper who said what I'd been waiting for, and dropped the Gattaca bomb... [Read More]
24 September 2012 - by Chris Baldacci 
Scientists have discovered a gene called FGF1 which is highly active in aggressive and advanced ovarian cancers... [Read More]

13 February 2012 - by Professor Mary Herbert 
The advent of PGD extended the scope of IVF beyond the treatment of infertility. PGD is predominantly used to prevent transmission of genetic defects arising from mutations in nuclear DNA. However, it can also be used to reduce the risk of transmitting mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which cause a range of debilitating and life-threatening diseases... [Read More]
12 December 2011 - by James Brooks 
The third session of the Progress Educational Trust's annual conference 'The Best Possible Start in Life: The Robust and Responsive Embryo' boasted a redoubtable roll-call of eminent clinicians and researchers as speakers... [Read More]
15 August 2011 - by Dr Malcolm Smith 
The Australian state of Victoria was the first common law jurisdiction in the world to enact legislation to regulate assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Victoria's legislative framework has been updated a number of times and the most recent legislation (the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (Vic)) came into effect on 1 January 2010... [Read More]
11 July 2011 - by Nishat Hyder 
The German parliament has passed a new law allowing PGD in limited circumstances. Under the new law, couples undergoing IVF can use PGD to screen embryos only if the parents have a predisposition to a serious genetic illness... [Read More]
31 May 2011 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
Multiple genetic tests have been performed on a single embryo for almost the first time, according to US researchers. The researchers from John Hopkins School of Medicine say their technique for making copies of an embryo's DNA can improve IVF success rates... [Read More]

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

 


 

- click here to enquire about using this story.

Printer Friendly Page

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation

Good Fundraising Code

Find out more about the Progress Educational Trust by downloading our brochure HERE