Making the Perfect Baby

The first IVF baby to be screened using a procedure that can read every letter of the human genome has been born in the U.S.

Connor Levy was born on 18 May after a Philadelphia couple had cells from their IVF embryos sent to specialists in Oxford, who checked them for genetic abnormalities. The process helped doctors at the couple’s fertility clinic in the U.S. select embryos with the right number of chromosomes. These have a much higher chance of leading to a healthy baby.

The birth demonstrates how next-generation sequencing (NGS), which was developed to read whole genomes quickly and cheaply, is poised to transform the selection of embryos in IVF clinics. Though scientists only looked at chromosomes — the structures that hold genes — on this occasion, the falling cost of whole genome sequencing means doctors could soon read all the DNA of IVF embryos before choosing which to implant in the mother. (More)

Comments (13)

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  1. August says:

    Sounds like the movie Gattaca.

  2. JD says:

    Amazing. We are on the verge of some humanity-changing advancements. Imagine the end of birth imperfections.

  3. Vinny says:

    Fascinating! I think it leads to the question, how far should humans go pragmatically with altering the genetic code/DNA? I think that is something we shouldn’t mess with…have people never seen zombie movies?

    • JD says:

      You’re right, there could be some real dangers, but ethically I see it as no different than surgery or vaccines.

    • Craig says:

      Zombie movies? Interesting argument. I think that it is perfectly practical/pragmatic to allow doctors to do this…it benefits families, babies, and society. This type of knowledge/research could help disease prevention ect.

    • Sal says:

      I think it’s absurd to be so afraid about the ability to genetically choose better DNA for your baby. You’ll have less handicapped people if we use it to prevent disorders of that nature. I think we can control for other factors, such as zombies.

      • Dewaine says:

        That goes against what we’ve been told by every movie.

      • Bubba says:

        If you’ve seen the movie, Zombie Apocalypse (or the animated television series, King of the Hill), you know the movie correctly describes parts of Garland as looking like it’s been decimated by a zombie apocalypse. This type of genetic screening might help prevent future problems like this from occurring.

    • Studebaker says:

      I read an article recently on a researcher who has a child with Downs Syndrome, and is researching potential therapies for the condition. What seemed amazing to me was that he said there is little interest in funding such research. He said all the interest is in detecting Downs Syndrome so children susceptible are aborted. That’s sounds logical to the medical community. But parents of children with Downs Syndrome are (understandably) livid at the notion their children are not worth treating and their children’s lives not worth living.

  4. Buster says:

    Considering infertile couples are generally older and are the ones who have a need for IVF, the ability to screen for chromosome abnormalities is a great idea.