The new test, developed by Genomic Prediction, could spark an ethical debate around genetic correction of human embryos. Soon, couples who have decided to resort to in vitro fertilization (IVF) will be able to reject “bad” embryos, or, on the contrary, select “quality” ones with signs of high intelligence.
The IVF process uses a female egg and sperm samples that are fused together in a laboratory. As a result, the fertilized egg becomes an embryo, which is placed in the uterus of the "native" or surrogate mother. Specialists can select up to 30 eggs, of which a third are of high quality, and already from them 2-3 embryos will be formed for direct implantation into the uterus.
According to Genomic Prediction co-founder Stephen Su, researchers need up to 10 fertilized eggs to identify embryos at genetic risk. The test developed by them makes it possible to "reject" doubtful embryos with signs of certain genetic diseases - for example, Down's or Patau's syndromes.
According to opponents, this test is rather controversial, since it is impossible to obtain accurate estimates with its help - only to single out risk groups. In some countries, notably the UK, genetic screening is prohibited. However, there is no such ban in the US, which allows companies like Genomic Prediction to conduct experiments on testing embryos during IVF.