Prospective Parents can now choose the healthiest embryo: Thanks to Genetic Screening

Shikha Batra

Created by Shikha Batra
Updated on Jul 11, 2022

Prospective Parents can now choose the healthiest embryo Thanks to Genetic Screening

Which Mom and Dad aren’t fearful of passing on something harmful like cancers, diabetes, and many more to their child through genes?


Which prospective parents do not want to break the chain of some inheritable condition being passed on from one generation to the next?


The answer to the above questions would be: A Majority of us would want to have healthy children who are free of any risk of developing serious conditions later in life that are passed on from us to them as a genetic baggage. 


PGT-P is a technique which can help prospective parents achieve all that through polygenic testing. Thuy and Rafal are the first of a couple of biotech firms in the US to open up genetic screening services to prospective parents. They are the mum and dad of Aurea, a little girl who represents a significant first in undergoing genetic testing as an embryo to screen for a disease. She is the world’s first PGT- P baby, where PGT-P stands for Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Polygenic disorders . This could possibly mean she is statistically less likely than any of us to develop a genetic disease or a disorder throughout her life. 


This technique allows prospective parents to actively select their own embryos, based on the strength of its genes.  It examines the embryos during in vitro fertilization (IVF) before possible transfer to a woman’s uterus for a range of genetic problems that can cause implantation failure, miscarriage and birth defects in a resulting child. Embryos found to have such flaws are excluded from being transferred to the mother’s womb for a pregnancy. 


What does the technique involve?

A full genetic image of the embryo is assembled from the set of makers which are based on the DNA samples of the embryo cells alongside genetic sequences from each dad and mom. From the growth course of the embryo in fast-forwards, the projection of what degree of well being a toddler born with these genes would possibly take is made and the embryo is given a well being rating. In simple words, each embryo is given a health score based on the existing mutations in its genes which could potentially one day be life limiting. The prospective parents are shown how that score compares against the population average. The other parameters which ranking takes into account include the severity of the conditions, if shown, as well as the ethnicity of the embryo, since that can also have an impact on the incidence of the disease. 


Does that mean choosing to do polygenic testing is like playing God?

To this Rafal who is the father of Aurea Yenmai Smigrodzki, replied “genetic selection is not playing God. It’s working as a mechanic on molecular machines that sometimes break and need to be fixed.”  He is a neurologist and referred to himself as a “techno-optimist”. He believes that he has done the best thing for his child by giving her the best odds against genetic diseases. 


If asked what one wish parents would want to make for their children, undoubtedly they would wish them to be healthy and free of any disease. As genes passed on from us to our children can predispose them to developing all kinds of diseases, none of us would want their child to suffer because of something harmful we have passed on to them.


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