Sun, Jan 11, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Baby tested for cancer gene before birth


The first baby in Britain to be tested shortly after conception for a genetic form of breast cancer has been born in a hospital in London, doctors said on Friday.

The baby girl grew from an embryo screened to ensure that it did not contain the BRCA 1 gene, which passes the risk of breast cancer down generations.

Any daughter born with the gene has an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer. A son can pass the altered gene on to any daughters.

Doctors at University College London said the girl and her 27-year-old mother, who wished to remain anonymous, were doing well.

Announcing her birth, Paul Serhal, medical director of the Assisted Conception Unit at the hospital, said: “This little girl will not face the specter of developing this genetic form of breast cancer or ovarian cancer in her adult life.”

“The parents will have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter. The lasting legacy is the eradication of the transmission of this form of cancer that has blighted these families for generations,” he said.

Women in three generations of the husband’s family had been diagnosed with the disease in their 20s, he said.

The pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) involves taking a cell from an embryo when it is around three days old and testing it.

Permission to carry out PGD for breast cancer had to be obtained from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority watchdog by the London clinic which performed the procedure.

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