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Kylie McConville

Pretty Soon We’ll All Be Giving Birth To ‘Perfect’ Babies: Here’s Why

PUBLISHED ON 12/30/2013

A new study published by Cell Press December in the journal Cell found that a safe, accurate, low-cost method to select genetically normal embryos for IVF will soon increase a couple's chance of getting pregnant and delivering a healthy "perfect" baby.

Under study author Jie Qiao of Third Hospital, Peking University found that through whole-genome sequencing of individual egg cells, researchers and doctors will be able to detect chromosomal abnormalities and DNA-sequence variations associated with genetic disorders. The long and short of it? Doctors are getting better and better at detecting possible abnormalities before baby is even a baby. Qiao says, "In this way, we kill two birds with one stone: One set of deep sequencing analysis to avoid two types of genetic problems. Theoretically, if this works perfectly, we will be able to double the success rate of test-tube baby technology from 30 to 60 percent — or even more."

For the study, Qiao teamed up with Sunney Xie of Peking and Harvard University to develop a method for sequence entire genomes of polar bodies (basically, cells that arise as a byproduct of egg cell division that usually die later on). Though various procedures already exist that detect genetic defects in embryos prior to implantation, those methods are typically very invasive, so Qiao and Xie set to work on creating methods that were safer. Under their supervision, these polar bodies that need to be tested can be removed without harming the embryo.

Xie said, "We are now starting a clinical trial based on this approach. If the clinical trial works, this technique could enormously increase the success rates of IVF, especially for older women or women who have had recurrent miscarriages."

Do you think scientists should "do away" with genetic abnormalities?

PHOTO: Thinkstock / The Bump