Irish clinic to offer new embryo test

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

A new fertility clinic opening in Dublin is to offer for the first time in Ireland pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.

The new service, at the CARE Fertility clinic at Dublin's Beacon Medical Campus, is aimed at couples who are fertile but may have a child with a genetic disorder but do not want this to be repeated if they have another child.

Using genetic probes in early diagnostic tests, the PGD process will help couples embark on a pregnancy where the future child will be free of disease, according to UK fertility specialist Dr Simon Fishel from the associated CARE facillty in the UK, which has pioneered this type of service.

Dr Fishel told that after carrying out conventional IVF, by removing and testing pre-placental cells surrounding the embryo pre-implantation without touching the embryo, the necessary genetic information can be obtained on whether the embryo is carrying a genetic or chromosome disorder.

This type of technology can also be used, Dr Fishel said, in what is called 'save your sibling' tissue-typing technology.

This had been pioneered in the UK and was deemed by the House of Lords to be a fullly acceptable procedure, which is now done routinely, he said.

This can be used in cases where couples already have a child who has a condition which will lead to either death or a very sick life,  where a potential cure is to have bone marrow stem cell transfusion. However, this needs to be tissue matched with the recipient.

Traditionally, if matching tissues from other tissue banks cannot be found there is nothing that can be done, Dr Fishel said.

However, using PGD, scientists can also test to see whether or not an embryo would be a tissue match for the sick sibling.

"We can help couples embark on a pregnancy where their next child is free of disease and tissue-matched so that the stem cells from thenew child's cord blood may be able to be used to save the life of the sick sibling."

Dr Fishel said he believed this type of procedure can be done in Ireland and he believed there were no legal or regulatory constraints surrounding it.

The new Beacon service, in addition to conventional IVF and ICSI, also offers CGH, whereby screening technology can improve the chances of having a healthy baby in people who have previously miscarried or had IVF failure due to a chromosome abnormality.

The new fertillty clinic also offers a newer form of embryo-freezing called EVES, new reproductive immunology, and new advanced methods of embryo imaging.

Previously, pre-implantation genetic testing has led to controversy among 'pro-life' campaigners.



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