Controversial genome check on embryos

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

New genome check for embryos can indicate illness or disability at an early stage

After a team of researchers had succeeded in deciphering the genome of an embryo from the mother's blood and the father's saliva, US scientists have now developed a test that only requires the mother's blood. While previously a risky amniotic fluid test was necessary to determine, for example, trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), a blood test now seems to be sufficient. The new developments lead to intense discussions among politicians, ethicists, doctors and those affected.

Mother's blood is enough for new gene test Many future parents will breathe a sigh of relief. Until now, they had to decide whether to have a risky amniotic fluid test carried out to diagnose a possible illness or disability of their unborn child. A test will soon be on the market in Germany that only requires the mother's blood. But the new developments are not popular everywhere. Doctors, ethicists, politicians and those affected discuss the necessity and consequences of such tests. As “Siegel Online” reports, the Federal Government's Disability Officer will present an expert opinion on this topic today.

After a team of researchers led by Jacob O. Kitzman and Jay Shendure from the University of Washington in Seattle developed a test that requires not only the mother's blood but also the father's saliva, Stanford University researchers succeeded in testing without the genetic information of the father. They only analyzed the genetic makeup of an embryo based on the mother's blood. Stephen Quake and Christina Fan from Stanford University report in the science magazine "Nature" that their test is carried out using DNA in the mother's blood plasma, which also contains a small part of the genetic material of the fetus. The researchers counted certain sections of DNA on the chromosomes.

The Stanford scientists had previously developed a test that analyzes DNA fragments of the fetus in the mother's blood to detect chromosome 21. If it is present three times instead of only twice, the unborn child has trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome. As "Siegel Online" reports, the PraenaTest will be launched by the company Lifecodexx on the German market in the coming days.

DNA test enables examination of many diseases before birth. Because the mother's blood also contains small amounts of the genetic material of the fetus, the scientists were able to draw conclusions about the entire genome of the unborn child. An embryo normally has two chromosomes of the same type, so that one is passed on by the father and mother and is in duplicate. A haplotype is a group of DNA patterns on a chromosome that is inherited together. The researchers assumed that the haplotypes that were passed on from mother to child appear more frequently in their blood because they are present both in their own genome and in part in that of the embryo. The remaining genetic material must therefore either come from the father or have arisen from new mutations.

According to researchers, life-threatening diseases with medical complications in the first and second trimester of pregnancy could be determined in the future using the test. Metabolic diseases could be diagnosed later, and treatment must begin immediately after birth. "We assume that there are no technical barriers and many practical applications for determining the entire fetal genome without invasive methods," said the researchers.

In order to be able to carry out a genetic test on a fetus, previously an amniotic fluid examination had to be carried out or a tissue sample of the mother cake had to be taken. One out of every hundred cases can lead to miscarriage.

Critics fear selection of disabled babies The new genetic tests provide plenty of explosives from an ethical and moral point of view. Critics fear that disabled babies will be sorted out in future due to the genetic material. They assume that the number of abortions would increase significantly with improved early detection. The opponents of prenatal diagnostics say that the natural reproductive process is interfered too far.

Christiane Woopen, Chair of the German Ethics Council, also commented critically on the test: “In my opinion, parents have no right to have their child's genes examined if nothing positive for the child follows from this or if there is a possibility of a health hazard for them avert pregnant woman. "

As "Siegel Online" reports, Hubert Hüppe (CDU), the Federal Government Commissioner for the Concerns of Disabled People, also considers the test to be highly discriminatory and also illegal. Today he will present his report, in which the legal side of the test and the ethical and social aspects of prenatal diagnostics have been examined, to the Federal Press Conference in Berlin. The Federal Government's Ethics Council also plans to issue an opinion by the end of 2012. (ag)

Read on:
Banned for blood test for Down syndrome
New early detection of diseases in fetuses
Alcohol harms 10,000 children every year
How dangerous is radioactive radiation?
Negative conclusion after 10 years of stem cell research

Image: Dieter Schütz /

Author and source information

Video: Genome Editing with CRISPR-Cas9

Previous Article

Cabbage can be eaten despite lice infestation

Next Article

Techniker Krankenkasse pays premiums