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Do you know what it can mean for a woman who has an 80 percent chance of suffering from breast cancer to be able to give birth to a baby without the gene for this disease? Thanks to embryo selection techniques, at the end of 2010 was born in Barcelona, the Spain's first cancer free baby without the BCRA1 gene, one of those that causes this disease. I put myself in this mother's place and tears of joy and emotion come to my eyes.
The child's mother, a carrier of the genetic alteration, had a direct and indirect family history of this type of cancer and also of the ovary and, for this reason, decided to resort to Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (DGP) when she considered having her first baby. The National Commission for Assisted Reproduction gave it the go-ahead in April 2009.
The baby, who is a boy, was born at the end of 2010, using the usual technique used to make the preimplantation diagnosis. The experts obtained from the woman several eggs and fertilized them, through the in vitro procedure, with her partner's semen. In total, five embryos were obtained, three of them free of the gene. Two were transferred to the patient and one of them ended up in pregnancy.
The other embryo free of the selected genetic load has been subjected to freezing techniques. This is the first case in Spain in which a newborn has been freed from this mutation, which increases the risk of breast cancer through implantation diagnostic techniques, although several successful pregnancies have already been achieved in the world, a total of seven.
Among these cases is that of the United Kingdom, which was obtained in January 2009. The mother, a carrier of the same altered gene (BRCA1), gave birth to a healthy girl. Another good news is that Breast cancer is not the only hereditary cancer that the children of the future can benefit from. In that list, they can also be colon cancer, thyroid cancer, neurofibromatosis, which is a genetic disorder of the nervous system that causes growth of tumors in the nerves, tuberous sclerosis and Fanconi anemia.
In the case of hereditary cancer, representing 5 percent of the total, specialists take into account the social and psychological damage that produces the disease in the family environment. For a couple that has suffered from this disease in their family, knowing that one of its members has a very high predisposition to transfer it to their children is a very hard blow. The preventive effect achieved by science, prevents another case of cancer from appearing in the family and this advance opens a new door to hope in their lives.
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