HFEA makes tissue typing decision
Dr Kirsty Horsey, Progress Educational Trust
01 March 2002

[BioNews, London] The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has given permission to an IVF clinic to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in order to select an embryo free from disease, and that will be a genetic match for an already existing child. Although such a procedure has already occurred in the US, this will be the first case of its kind in the UK.

The parents of Zain Hashmi, a three-year old boy with beta thalassaemia major, a rare genetic blood disorder, asked to be allowed to use IVF and genetic screening techniques in order to create a child who would be able to be a cell donor for their son. Zain needs a bone marrow transplant, but no compatible match has been found within his family or the national donor pool. Dr Simon Fishel, from the Park Hospital's Centre for Assisted Reproduction in Nottingham, agreed to assist the parents and applied to the HFEA for approval to do so.

Using normal IVF procedures, the couple's embryos will first be diagnosed using PGD to ensure that they are free from the disease. Disease-free embryos will then be assessed to see if they are genetically matched to Zain, and one or two of them will be transferred to his mother. If a successful pregnancy and birth is achieved, it is hoped that cells taken from the umbilical cord blood of the resulting baby can be transplanted into Zain.

It has been reported that six more couples have applied to the HFEA for permission to use the procedure. The authority has said that it will consider applications on a case-by-case basis. Ruth Deech, chairman of the authority said it 'will approve applications only after rigorous examination of the ethical and medical implications of the treatment and the welfare of the children'. Welcoming the HFEA's decision, Dr Fishel commented that the procedure 'will be used carefully, guardedly, but to the benefit of those families who are suffering and children who have life-threatening diseases'.

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© Copyright 2008 Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced from BioNews with permission, a web- and email-based source of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and human genetics, published by Progress Educational Trust.

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