Tag Archives: genetics

Creating Designer Babies: Screening for Disease and Desirable Traits

15 Feb

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, has been used to screen for genes that lead to diseases such as cystic fibrosis and cancer.  Now, the lab procedure that screens for diseases in embryos is being offered to create designer children. Two articles on the topic have appeared recently; they both address the medical and ethical implications.

Last month, the New Scientist reported that the first UK baby genetically selected to be free of a form of breast cancer caused by BRCA1 was born in London.  It was reported that the parents underwent IVF, and the resulting embryos were screened with PGD, where a small number of cells are removed and tested. Only embryos free of the BRCA1 gene were implanted. Five  embryos tested were found to be free of the gene and were implanted; one resulted in the pregnancy.

Gautam Naik reported in February 12 issue of The Wall Street Journal that LA- based Fertility Institutes, will soon help couples select both gender and physical traits in a baby when they undergo fertility treatment. Dr. Jeff Steinberg, director of the clinic, claims that trait selection “is a service” that he intends to offer soon.  According to Naik:

For trait selection, Steinberg is now betting on a new approach for screening embryos. It involves taking cells from an embryo at day five of its development, compared with typical PGD, which uses cells from day three. The method potentially allows more cells to be obtained, leading to a more reliable diagnosis of the embryo.

Many countries have banned the use of PGD for gender selection; it is permitted in the U.S. According to a 2006 survey by the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University,42% of 137 PGD clinics offered a gender-selection service.

Creating Designer Babies: the Smackdown Continues

15 Feb

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PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is being used to screen embryos for diseases such as cancer, and it’s now  being used to pick traits like gender, eye and hair color.  Last month, the New Scientist reported that the first UK baby genetically selected to be free of a form of breast cancer caused by BRCA1 was born in London.  Gautam Naik reported in February 12 issue of The Wall Street Journal that LA- based Fertility Institutes, will soon help couples select both gender and physical traits in a baby when they undergo fertility treatment. Dr. Jeff Steinberg, director of the clinic, claims that trait selection “is a service” that he intends “to offer soon.”

Are we going too far? You decide.

Arnold Schwarzenegger At UCSF Stem Cell Event

17 Dec

Today, Eli Broad made a $25 million gift to fund UCSF's
stem cell program. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed the audience of distinguished guests. The Governor said that Broad's donation should offer hope to the "millions of people who suffer from
spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple
sclerosis and many other illnesses." The funding is the largest single private donation to the university's
stem cell program and is a major source of funding for the $123
million  Institute for Regeneration Medicine building which will open in 2010. Read the press release here.

ArnoldArnold schwartzenegger @ucsf

The Environment & the Genetics of Parkinson’s

12 Nov

UCSF’s Robert Nussbaum is using what he has learned about genes, proteins and Parkinson’s to search for environmental factors that trigger the disease in individuals with a genetic susceptibility.
http://ping.fm/AtaCg