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SCI/TECH: Embryos to be screened for cancer

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posted on Nov, 1 2004 @ 09:09 AM
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Couples taking part in IVF treatment are now allowed to have their embryos screened for bowel and colon cancer. Screening already takes place for other disorders.
 



news.bbc.co.uk
Scientists have been granted permission to screen test tube embryos for an inherited form of cancer.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) approved the screening following a request from couples seeking IVF treatment.

The watchdog said there was a strong chance of the genetic bowel cancer being passed from parent to child. If a parent is a carrier of the gene there is normally a 50% chance it will be passed on to their children.
Embryos created using IVF can be screened using the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis process.

Then only embryos free of the gene will be implanted.

One of the couples to win the right to have their IVF embryos screened said they were delighted with the decision.

They told The Times newspaper: "We are overjoyed to have been given this chance, not only to do as much as possible to make sure our children don't have the gene, but to stop them passing it on."







Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


This is however, the first time screening has been allowed for disorders or diseases that do not appear untill adulthood. Bowel cancer does not usually appear untill quite late in life, usually 40 onwards.

This, I can see, may become a serious issue, especially to pro-lifers. Bowel cancer is now very treatable if found early and doctors would more than likely keep an eye on patients that have the disease within the family.
There is also an application for a licence to test for breast cancer genes being considered.

Myself, do not have a problem with this, but I can see it as being a serious issue for others.

Please read the article and decide what you think. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?



Related News Links:
news.bbc.co.uk




posted on Nov, 1 2004 @ 11:13 AM
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Originally posted by Kriz_4
Couples taking part in IVF treatment are now allowed to have their embryos screened for bowel and colon cancer. Screening already takes place for other disorders.

While this is true, this type of screening represents a whole new era of genetic screening. Typical prenatal genetic diagnosis (PGD) coupled with IVF is for disorders that have an ABSOLUTE genetic link, ie: cystic fibrosis, huntington's disease, Down's syndrome, etc. However, this issue is not the same, read further.


The watchdog said there was a strong chance of the genetic bowel cancer being passed from parent to child. If a parent is a carrier of the gene there is normally a 50% chance it will be passed on to their children.

This is merely the chance that gene will be passed on. The actual probability of contracting and suffering from cancer is another matter entirely, and is notably absent from the original source.



This, I can see, may become a serious issue, especially to pro-lifers.

While I am not pro-life, I have serious issues with this type of diagnosis.
In my opinion, broad acceptance or indifference towards these types of technologies will swiftly return us to our not too far removed eugenic ideals. Who is to say what is a good gene or a bad gene? Scientists? Maybe someday, but these technologies, and our understanding of genetics in general is still in it's early years... despite the rapid progress that has been made. The simple fact of the matter is we have no idea why natural selection permits these 'bad' genes persist in the human gene pool. However, what seems bad on the surface is not always inherently bad. Sickle Cell anemia for example lends a certain degree of immunity from malaria for the heterozygous carrier. There is evidence to suggest that carriers of cystic fibrosis are less susceptible to typhus. Given this, who really knows why genes that may or may not cause disease persist in a population. The point is that they DO persist, and they HAVE persisted. While I have a lot of faith in science, with respect to the selection of genes to be propagated or removed from the gene pool permanently, I have a lot more faith in natural selection.


Please read the article and decide what you think. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

IMO, it's something that needs to approached with extreme caution. As I mentioned this country does have a history of attempting to uphold certain eugenic ideals. Interestingly enough, when the Nazi regime dragged the term eugenics through the mud last century, all of the eugenics departments and facilities in the US changed the word 'eugenics' to 'genetics.' Furthermore, IMO, the growing trend towards blaming genetics for everything from cancer to obesity is wrong. It completely ignores trends in occurence and incidence of these types of disease over time, and leaves an individual feeling as if there is nothing they can do to help themselves. It's really the ultimate form of demoralization, telling some one they are doomed because of their genetic makeup... we can't change someone's genome yet. This leaves on no options. How much more hopeless can it get?



posted on Nov, 1 2004 @ 09:48 PM
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I found a report stating that by age 35, 95% of people with this gene will have pre cancerous polyps.



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