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One stop embryo test

27th October 2008

A team of scientists in the UK have developed a £1,500 test which they say could let future parents know if an embryo had "almost any inherited disease"

Embryo

The team, working at the Bridge Centre in London, said the test would be able to spot any of 15,000 diseases an embryo could inherit "within weeks".

Currently, genetic testing looks for particular mutations and can take a long time to come up with results. Clinics test embryos in advance of their implantation in the womb in order to ascertain if they have any mutations, such as cystic fibrosis.

The new test - known as karyomapping - is claimed to act as a "universal" test. It is carried out by taking one cell from an IVF-created embryo. DNA samples are then obtained from the parents and grandparents.

The DNA of the family is then analysed against 300,000 defined DNA markers to create a "map".

Professor Alan Handyside, who created the new test, spoke to the BBC: "The current tests can only identify a small number of defects."

"One of the main things for patients is that, quite often, there isn't a test for their particular condition. This is a single test - a universal method."

He added that the tests might also be used to show when an embryo might inherit a vulnerability to cancer or heart problems.

The test is undergoing trials at the Bridge Centre and is being compared against standard genetic tests in order to gather information.

Professor Handyside will need to make an application to the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority in order to use the test and to obtain a licence.

 

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