The companies Genomic Prediction and MyOme have come up with two new pre-implantation diagnosis “options”. Pre-implantation diagnosis or PID is a technique that was developed thirty years ago. It provides an option to carry out a genetic test on embryos fertilised in vitro to eliminate those with genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, and to implant only those considered “healthy”. Genomic Prediction and MyOme have conducted embryo selection research involving more and more criteria, which not only extends the number of disorders being tested for but also paves the way to sorting embryos according to physical (hair or eye colour) or intellectual features. The “novelty” involves sorting embryos according to criteria focussing on several genes at once.
The two new potential “options” are:
– genetic testing of both parents and embryos using a computerised algorithm to “establish a more comprehensive embryo chromosome profile”,
– DNA sequencing of the embryo, the result of which will be subjected to automated learning algorithms capable of identifying patterns in the DNA that could possibly be linked to the risk of developing diseases such as cancer.
These tests could soon be available in US fertility clinics. The two companies believe that it is now “technically feasible” to sort embryos according to their future intelligence quotient (IQ), stating that “we’re not doing this to eliminate less intelligent babies”. They refuse to provide intelligence analyses on “ethical grounds” but warn against “less scrupulous” companies. They will nevertheless perform PID based on the criterion of “psychological disorder”.
New scientist (15/11/2018); Medical press (16/11/2018)