May 11, 2006

The Not So Incredibly Conservative HFEA

Britain's regulatory authority has granted permission to physicians in IVF clinics to test embryos for cancer genes. The HFEA chairwoman said:
"This decision will be significant for the small number of females that suffer from these rare but very serious inherited cancers, such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer."
Whatever you think about cancer screening in embryos - and I've written that it seems problematic to me for a whole host of reasons, there is some irony in the fact that no matter what the British government decrees, the decision about who gets a test for ovarian or breast cancer susceptibility will be made by the company that owns all the patents on all of the breast cancer genes (see more of our rambling about that problem here), Myriad, who preside unabashedly over such choices from their Utah offices, and who have decreed in the past that they would not allow such testing. So now the High Ministry of Reproduction can appeal to the guys who own the genes.

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