Monday, December 29, 2008

Genetics end fears of breast cancer

A BABY genetically screened to be breast cancer free is due to be born within days. In what is believed to be the first publicised case in the world, a British couple underwent pre-implantation genetic testing to free their children from the disease.

At the same time, IVF Australia has announced it will start the genetic testing for the aggressive breast cancer gene BRACA 1 next year. Testing for the breast cancer gene has been available in Australia for about five years. Pre-implantation genetic testing is already used to screen for hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

The British couple, are one of two in the UK who have publicly decided to undergo the test after their families had been afflicted with breast cancer. Without screening, any daughter of the couples would have an 80 per cent chance of developing the fast-spreading form of breast cancer.

Genetic testing involves using IVF to create a selection of embryos. Scientists then select the ones without the rogue gene and implant them in the woman. The embryos with the rogue gene are destroyed.

Another couple, known as Matthew and Helen, have also undergone the screening to try to eradicate the hereditary breast cancer gene. "I've lived much of my life with cancer and death, and fear that I might have to face it and might pass on the risk to my children," Helen said. "This gives us the chance to make sure our daughters won't have the same experience."

Notice the language used in the first paragraph “genetic testing to free their children from the disease..” No one is set free from the disease, those who have the genetic disposition towards breast cancer are destroyed before they even have a chance to get the disease. The embryos who don't have the rogue gene are not set free from the disease either, they never had the gene in the first place.

Keep in mind that the embryos they find defective don't always develop breast cancer later in life. They only have a gene that pre disposes them to get breast cancer. In 40 to 50 years time when these children have grown up there may well be a cure for breast cancer.

While parents are trying to avoid giving birth to children that have a potential breast cancer risk, the very method they are using (IVF) is reported to actually increase the risk of birth defects.

Isn't it better to have lived with the possibility of catching the disease than to have died hours or days after your own conception.? We are all going to die of something anyway. Should doctors and parents command so much power as to decide which child lives and which one dies? What do you think?

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Jan Baker said...

Yes, your points are certainly ironic! Especially that no one was 'set free' of any disease, only that those with a genetic predisposition have been killed off. This is pretty much our usual take on euthanasia, and we'll be seeing very many more aged people 'liberated' from their 'suffering' very shortly.

I wonder if through all their machinizations they will begin to see the inevitable link between abortion and breast cancer? And if so, if they will begin to call more and more for the 'fourth trimester abortion' which allows a woman to experience the salutory effects of pregnancy, especially regarding breast cancer, without suffering motherhood itself? A friend of mine who voted for Obama is totally horrified at the idea, when she supports killing that same little face moments before birth, which is the US law and practice defended by Obama. Our ability to delude outselves is enormous, isn't it?

Secular Heretic said...

It's all about loving the truth. Some don't love the truth and so are happy to live in a make believe world. It think it's important to seek the truth no matter how much you don't like it.

Liberty Belle said...

That is such a heart rending story. I can't imagine knowing before hand and playing God over a potential life.

beetlebabee said...
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Pearl said...

Good observations and good questions, Secular Heretic. Hitler also would have "cleansed" the world of "defective" people of all ages and situations. What people don't understand is that those spirits have chosen to come to this life and experience those trials to prove themselves to God here on earth; and we are often the biggest benefactors of their existence as they cause us to be softened and refined through sacrifice and service. Sure, we never want anyone to suffer, but are we really doing anybody a favor by playing God and creating sterile, man-engineered lives? My thought is no. Instead we are depriving ourselves of learning experiences and opportunities to exercise our faith in God.

Secular Heretic said...

Yes I'm sure Hitler would have loved our modern day technology to use for his purposes. Suffering is part of our lives and we need to use it to our advantage. Of course we should try to eliminate suffering if we can and I thing this gene therapy is a misguided attempt at that.