Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_89534

PGD licensing streamlined in UK

20 January 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 292

The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has announced plans to speed up the licensing of embryo tests for some genetic conditions. Currently, PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) is approved on a case by case basis, even for tests that are already being carried out elsewhere in the country. Under the new guidelines, applications to carry out tests for conditions that have been successfully carried out in another clinic - such as those for sickle cell anaemia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy - will be approved without having to go through the full HFEA licensing committee process.

To carry out PGD, doctors test IVF embryos, to ensure that only embryos unaffected by a particular genetic condition are returned to the woman's womb. Eight clinics throughout the UK are currently licensed to carry out the procedure, which involves the removal of a single cell from a two to four day old embryo - an embryo biopsy. Suzi Leather, chair of the HFEA, said that 'whilst PGD is a specialised procedure, which can only be carried out by a qualified embryo biopsy practitioner, it should be straightforward for those clinics with a proven track record in the appropriate techniques to be able to carry out screening for any of the conditions currently approved'.

Ms Leather hopes that the new guidelines will 'streamline the system', and cut down on bureaucracy. However, the HFEA stresses that more specialised applications of PGD - such as tissue typing of embryos to conceive 'saviour siblings' able to donate cord blood to existing sick children - will still require 'thorough consideration' on an individual basis. Applications to use PGD for late onset conditions, such as familial cancers, will also require full consideration by the licensing committee, as will PGD for new conditions.

In November 2004, the HFEA triggered debate when it granted a licence to a clinic that wanted to carry out PGD for familial adenomatous polyposis coli (FAP), an inherited form of bowel cancer. In June 2004, UK IVF doctor Mohammed Taranissi announced that he would be applying for a licence to use PGD to test embryos for gene mutations that cause familial breast cancer. At the time, he called for a public debate, and a national policy on the use of PGD for late-onset conditions, so that clinics would not need to seek permission on a case by case basis.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Fast-Track Screening Move for Fertility Clinics
The Scotsman |  19 January 2005
HFEA announce new process to speed up applications for embryo screening
HFEA |  19 January 2005
Rules streamlined to speed embryo tests
The Times |  20 January 2005
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
24 January 2005 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The lengthy process of applying for a licence to carry out preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in the UK is set to get slightly easier - at least for some diseases. PGD was first used in 1989, to select a female embryo that would be free from the severe inherited, sex-linked disorder...
24 January 2005 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The lengthy process of applying for a licence to carry out preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in the UK is set to get slightly easier - at least for some diseases. PGD was first used in 1989, to select a female embryo that would be free from the severe inherited, sex-linked disorder...
1 November 2004 - by BioNews 
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has issued a licence allowing doctors to test embryos for a gene mutation that confers a high risk of bowel cancer. Four couples at risk of passing on familial adenomatous polyposis coli (FAP) to their children are now set to undergo the...
1 November 2004 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
This week, BioNews reports on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)'s decision to allow four couples to use embryo gene-testing to avoid passing on hereditary bowel cancer. The licence, granted to a team working at University College Hospital in London, is likely to set a precedent for other...
HAVE YOUR SAY
to add a Comment.

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


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.