Three babies born in trial of 'full chromosome' test

Three healthy babies have been born in a pilot study of a technique to screen eggs across the full range of chromosomes, looking for defects that boost the risk of miscarriage, doctors said Friday.

Twin girls were born in Germany in June, while a boy was born in Italy in September, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) said.

"All babies and their mothers are doing very well in terms of weight and overall developmental performance," said Cristina Magli, an embryologist at the SISMER Centre in Bologna which took part in the trial.

It is the first controlled trial of a technique called microarray comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH), which aims at boosting success in assisted reproduction.

The first birth using CGH occurred in Britain last year: a baby called Oliver, who was born to a 41-year-old woman who had had 13 failed attempts at in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Several other pregnancies in ESHRE's study are still under way, and plans are being set for a large-scale international clinical trial in 2011, the society said in its press release.

Human cells have 46 chromosomes, with 23 inherited from each parent. Before an egg is fertilised, it ejects half of its full set of chromosomes to make room for the 23 coming from the sperm.

These discarded chromosomes, held in a structure called the "polar body," are a mirror image of those remaining in the egg.

CGH examines this cast-off genetic material. If there are too few or too many chromosomes, doctors know that the egg is not suitable for use.

ESHRE said CGH screening had several advantages.

Firstly, it tests all 23 pairs of chromosomes in a cell, rather than a limited number, as other methods do, ESHRE said.

In addition, the cell tested is taken from the egg at fertilisation, rather than from a developing embryo.

As a result, the technique could be a boon in countries which outlaw embryo analysis.

Further, by selecting an embryo that has the best chance of developing into a live birth, IVF doctors are less tempted to implant multiple embryos.

Multiple pregnancies are one of the most controversial areas of IVF, given the evidence that twins and triplets are at risk of low birth weight and developmental difficulties.

Women who would benefit most from CGH are in a category where there is higher-than-average rate of embryonic chromosomal abnormalities, ESHRE said.

These are women who are aged over 37 and have a record of unsuccessful IVF and a history of miscarriage.

"We have learnt from more than 30 years of IVF that many of the embryos we transfer have chromosome abnormalities," ESHRE's chairman, Luca Gianaroli, said.

"Indeed, it's still the case that two out of every three embryos we transfer fail to implant as a pregnancy, many of them because of these abnormalities."

The exploit reflects the widening use of DNA screening in IVF, although the principle has also hit ethical concerns - that it could one day be abused to create "designer" babies.

Nearly four million children around the world have been born through IVF or a related technique, involving the transfer of a single sperm into the egg, since the first "test-tube" baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978.

The scientist who pioneered the technique, Bob Edwards, won the 2010 Nobel Medicine Prize on October 4.

The Vatican lashed the award as "completely out of order," given the large numbers of embryos that are wasted. The Roman Catholic church and some evangelical conservatives contend that human life starts at the earliest state of the embryo.

ri/boc

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas