UK gives birth to first baby free of breast cancer risks

A British mother has successfully given birth to the first baby selected to be free of a gene responsible for breast cancer. Still relatively rare, the selection procedure is banned in several countries for ethical reasons.


AFP - A mother who is the first woman in Britain to have a baby selected free of a gene which causes breast cancer has given birth succesfully, doctors said Friday.

"The mother and her little girl are doing very well," said University College London (UCL) of the baby, who grew from an embryo screened to ensure it did not contain the faulty BRCA 1 gene.

The baby's 27-year-old mother, who wants to remain anonymous, decided to take the step because several of her husband's close female relatives suffered from breast cancer.

Any daughter born with the BRCA 1 gene has an 80 per cent risk of developing breast cancer and a 60 per cent chance of developing ovarian cancer -- as well as a 50 percent risk of passing on the anomaly to their own children.

Doctors said the parents were relieved to have a guarantee that the faulty gene would not be passed to their daughter.

"This little girl will not face the spectre of developing this genetic form of breast cancer or ovarian cancer in her adult life," said Paul Serhal, head of the Assisted Conception Unit at UCL Hospital.

"The parents will have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter. The lasting legacy is the eradication of the transmission of this form of cancer that has blighted these families for generations," he said.

The mother said in June: "We felt that, if there was a possibility of eliminating this for our children, then that was a route we had to go down."

The procedure was carried out using a technique known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis which has already been used here to screen embryos resulting from in vitro fertilisation for disorders like cystic fibrosis.

It was given the green light in Britain in 2006.

The procedure is still relatively rare but has been used to screen embryos for breast cancer in the United States and Belgium.

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