Embryonic selection of sex avoids conceiving blind children

December 18, 2006

The Assisted Reproduction Unit at the Quirón Hospital in Donostia-San Sebastián has managed, for the first time in the Basque Country, to successfully carry out an embryonic sex selection in a woman who is a carrier of the disease Retinosis Pigmentaria, linked with the X chromosome - in order to avoid giving birth to a male child.

Retinosis Pigmentaria is a hereditary illness of the eyes of a degenerative nature. It causes a serious reduction in visual capacity and, in many cases, leads to blindness. The ailment does not affect males and females equally: in the case of men, there is a 50% probability of suffering the disease. With women, however, they born healthy, bat there is a 50% probability of being carriers.

The embryonic selection of sex is the only recourse open in order to avoid male children suffering from the disease with the consequent possibility of going blind. This is because, in order to select healthy embryos in a manner that does not involve sex selection, it would be essential to know the exact mutation in the chromosome, something which has not been achieved in this particular case.

This embryonic selection enables the prevention of the transmission of this disease to future generations and may be a way to reduce the number of victims of Retinosis Pigmentaria. In Spain the number of sufferers is over 15,000, with some 60,000 being carriers of the defective gene and, thereby, possible transmitters of the condition.
-end-


Elhuyar Fundazioa

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