by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted October 1, 2007 in DNA Testing, DNA and Disease, Genetic Engineering
The UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has approved the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to select embryos free of the gene for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The couple who applied has a family history of the disease on the man’s side. His mother, grandmother, and two uncles all died from early-onset Alzheimer’s.
In 2002, researchers in Chicago performed the first PGD procedure for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fifteen embryos were screened for the V717L mutation in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene which acts in a dominant fashion; only one copy of the genetic mutation is needed to cause early-onset Alzheimer’s. In this case, the mother carried the V717L mutation inherited from her father. One of her sisters and one of her brothers also had the disease. At the time, the Wellcome Trust Public Health Genetics Unit raised the following concern:
Considerable controversy surrounds this use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis. The issue is whether a woman who knows that she is likely to fall victim to dementia while still in her 30s, and so be unable to care for her child, has the right to choose to become a mother.
Dr. David King, director of Human Genetics Alerts – an independent public interest watchdog group in London that opposes the use of PGD for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease:
We can confidently expect science to find a cure for Alzheimer’s in the next 40 years.
I don’t believe that it is better never to have been born than to live a healthy life for 45 years and die from Alzheimer’s.
If we don’t want to slide down this slippery slope, we must restrict PGD to conditions that are fatal in early life.
As for the couple who has just been granted the use of PGD for early-onset Alzheimer’s, the potential father is the one with the family history. Yet, he does not know if he carries the APP V717L gene mutation. If he does carry the genetic mutation, he has a 50-50 chance of passing the mutation, and subsequently the disease, to his children.
Although I’m not questioning this couple’s very personal choice, I do wonder why they are going through PGD without knowing the potential father’s genetic status. If he tests negative, he can rest assured that his children most likely won’t develop early-onset Alzheimer’s and they would not have to go through PGD. However, if he tested positive, he’d be in the same situation of considering PGD. I understand the psychological implications of genetic testing, but what is the rationale behind this choice?
Would you choose PGD to select embryos free of a genetic mutation even if you didn’t know if you had the genetic mutation yourself and thus had no a priori knowledge of the probability of passing the genetic mutation on to your children?
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD): A Discussion...
Types of Genetic Tests...
Medical Tourism for Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)...
Eye on DNA Links – June 19, 2007...
IVF Strategies: Cloned Sperm and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis...
Dr. Robert Marion on Physician Knowledge of Genetics...
Genetic Testing to Prevent Wrongful Life...
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.
Search Eye on DNA
- Genetic Genealogy on Faces of America
- DNA Network Tweet Cloud
- Genetics = Real Science
- Larry David’s DNA Test
- Lopez Tonight First Late-Night Show to Offer DNA Testing
- American Genes Don’t Exist
- Knowledge about Genetic Risk is Power or is it Fear?
- Murderer Gets Reduced Sentence Because His Genes Made Him Do It
- Video: Knome’s Ari Kiirikki Speaks with Medgadget
- DNA Toys: Ben 10 and Digimon Digivice
- 100 Facts About DNA
- Salaries for Jobs in Genetics
- Fetal Gender DNA Tests Answer Common Pregnancy Question...Or Not
- How To Determine Paternity Without A DNA Test
- What does DNA mean to you?
- Eye on DNA Interview: Dr. Tzung-Fu Hsieh of RedTracer DNA Test for the Red Hair Gene, MC1R
- Books About DNA: The Crime of Reason by Robert B. Laughlin
- Genetically Modified Organisms Bring in the Cash
- Navigenics Introduces Physician Portal and Annual Insight Service
- People Who’ve Had Their Genomes Sequenced
09/29/2009 07:03 am
- Larry David’s DNA Test
11/17/2009 02:52 am
- 23andMe DNA Tests for $399, Down From $999
09/10/2008 04:33 am
- Crazy Genetic Marketing Ideas
07/05/2008 09:14 pm
- Parenting Children Using Genetic Tests
05/18/2009 02:09 am
- Business of DNA
- DNA @ Google Answers
- DNA and Disease
- DNA and Genealogy
- DNA and the Law
- DNA Around the World
- DNA Fun
- DNA in General
- DNA Inventions and Gadgets
- DNA Lab Talk
- DNA Podcasts and Videos
- DNA Quotes and Excerpts
- DNA Testing
- Gene Therapy
- Genetic Engineering
- Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms
- Jobs Involving DNA
- Personalities with DNA
- Polls About DNA
- January 2010
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008
- January 2008
- December 2007
- November 2007
- October 2007
- September 2007
- August 2007
- July 2007
- June 2007
- May 2007
- April 2007
- Mendel’s Garden
- Dr. Deborah Serani
- A View from England
- GMO Africa
- Nurse Practitioner News
- Christina Loves
- Adventures in Ethics and Science