Healthy embryo testing: New techniques

Healthy embryo testing: New techniques

Posted on 7.8.14

PGD testing

The first successful pregnancy and healthy delivery to a couple at risk of passing on a serious illness to their child was performed more than 25 years ago. The scientist behind the breakthrough - which became known as PGD (for preimplantation genetic diagnosis) or PGD testing - was Professor Alan Handyside, now a consultant in genetics at the Bridge Centre.

The technique he used aimed simply to identify the gender of embryos created by IVF and so avoid the transmission of a disease which was linked only to the male sex. Only female embryos were transferred, and the result a healthy pregnancy.

Since then the techniques of PGD have evolved with enormous speed, and it is now possible to detect mutations for most genetic diseases in the embryos of couples known to be at risk. The aim today is just as it was more than 25 years ago - to identify genetically normal embryos for patients at risk of transmitting a specific genetic abnormality.

The first success, using another technique of identifying genetic abnormalities in an at-risk couple has just been reported from a London clinic. The technique, known as "karyomapping", was also developed by Professor Handyside", and relies on a genetic fingerprint of the disease partly obtained from a member of the couple's family. Specialists can then check the cells biopsied from the couple's embryos and work out which will be affected or not by the disorder, or will be carriers who could pass it on.

Karyomapping is just one of several new techniques introduced in recent years to test embryos - either for single genetic disorders in couples known to be at risk, or to screen for chromosomal disorders in IVF embryos before transfer. New whole genome and comprehensive techniques are now available, which can screen all chromosomes and multiple genes with an accuracy never even imagined 20 years ago.

Do you wish to learn more about embryo testing at the London Women's Clinic? Please call on 020 7563 7309 or email to find out more.

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