First british baby genetically selected to be free of a breast cancer gene has been born

Just read this on Sky News and thought I would post it for information.

"The first British baby genetically selected to be free of a breast cancer gene has been born, University College London has said.

She grew from an embryo screened to ensure it did not contain the faulty BRCA 1 gene, which passes the risk of breast cancer down generations.

University College London said the the mother and her little girl were doing “very well”.

Any girl born with the gene has a 50% to 85% of developing breast cancer.

Announcing the girl’s birth, Paul Serhal, medical director of the Assisted Conception Unit at the hospital, said: "This little girl will not face the spectre of developing this genetic form of breast cancer or ovarian cancer in her adult life.

"The parents will have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter.

“The lasting legacy is the eradication of the transmission of this form of cancer that has blighted these families for generations.”

In June the mother, then 27, told how she decided to undergo the screening process after seeing all her husband’s female relatives suffer the disease.

The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said at the time: “We felt that, if there was a possibility of eliminating this for our children, then that was a route we had to go down.”

The technique, known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) has already been used in the UK to free babies of inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease.

But breast cancer is different because it does not inevitably affect a child from birth and may or may not develop later in life.

There is also a chance it can be cured, if caught early enough."

Personally i find all this a bit confusing. I have read two reports in the paper today, the one above and also another one about a couple who intend to have the same done as she lost her mum who was in her 40’s and went on to find out she carries the braca 1 gene.
The thing is though so many of my family have died of BC and i dont have braca 1 or 2 and yet got BC at just 44.
On the letter i got confirming i didnt carry the gene it said 95% sure but it doesnt mean there aren’t other genes that i have which made me prone to BC. which as yet they cant test for.

One thing did stand out though to me the woman who does carry the gene has yearly MRI scans. I can’t even get one done and have had lobular cancer which was not detected on the mammogram.

I suppose its an advancement in modern medicine and can only be for the best. think its great we can stop people have CF and hungtingtons disease two awful illnesses, but BC I am not sure about.


I think that anything that can be done to prevent people from developing BC is great. I read in one paper that some woman from some ethics group (sorry, can’t remember the detials) was opposed to this as it amounted to eugenics. Yes how much better it is to let nature take it’s course and allow your children to develop cancer naturally. She’s probably one of the nitwits who cheerfully tell me that cancer is n’t as bad as it used to be…and of course none of them (or thier families) have had it. As for Sky saying “it can be cured, if caught early enough”…do they know something the rest of us don’t? My onc and consultant are very clear that I am not “cured”, I am simply NED, no evidence of disease which is not the same thing.


I too saw this on the news and then went on to see it being discussed on a couple of TV programmes recently. I agree it would be wonderful to stop women from contracting this disease but I was struck by the fact that it is quite a small percentage of women who have the BRAC1 and 2 genes, that they do not all go on to develop BC and that even if these babies could be born without these genes they could still go on to develop a non-hereditary form of BC (which most are).

It is good news for those with many in their families having BC but I am one of those who is really worried about altering nature. I’m worried that by tampering with genes we can create other mutations that will be a bigger nightmare in the long run. I don’t know what the answer is though.

I think im on the fence with this one because as you say anything that can help with relieving families of the devestation that BC brings is a good thing isn’t it? but on the other hand as a BRCA2 carrier myself if i would have known when i had my children that i had this gene i dont know if i would have let myself have a family simply for the chance of passing it to them. Which they wont test them till there 18. does this make sense.


i think if this sort of breakthrough in technology can help to eradicate bc from a family then its a good thing, but that is just my own opinion, i am currently waiting for the results of genetic testing as i have a 17 year old daughter and two older sons, i like to think that if i prove positive and my children do then maybe they may be offered this service. i did read the article in the Times that was out in June last year about this couple, if i remember rightly 6 out of the 11 embryo’s screened carried the brac gene, so i think for this family they at least have broken the chain, of course it does not mean that the child will never be effected by other cancers, but lets hope she never is anyway. i think the most important aspect of this new technology is that it must never ever be used to create the perfect child, and hopefully it will extend to family’s who have diseases like parkinsons, huntingtons career etc.

Alison - The technology doesn’t mean they won’t get Breast Cancer - just that they won’t get the heridary form of BC.

msmolly - That’s an interesting point about hereditary BC being more common because they haven’t identified all the genes associated with it yet. Maybe it is a lot higher than the 5-10% quoted. It just goes to show how accepting some of us are when quoted information by supposed experts.

Thats true Suzanne, but hopefully she won’t get a breast cancer at a younger age. one of the reasons i had my good breast removed was due to my older sister having had a hormone neg in one then four years later a hormone positive in the other, she was only 43 when she got the first one. it was only by chance that i knew as we had not had contact for over 13 years, at least now we can be more aware for our own children.


I just thought I’d let you know that when I said “The technology doesn’t mean they won’t get Breast Cancer - just that they won’t get the hereditary form of BC” I was actually referring to any future genetically selected embryos. I’m mortified in case you thought I was insensitive enough to be referring to your daughter.

My point really was that even with genetically selected embryos being implanted, people have to be aware that it is still only a small percentage of Breast Cancers that will be avoided and not be complacent and think the adults these embryos develop into cannot get Breast Cancer at all.

I do think it is a very good idea to have genetic testing if there is a strong family history of BC so that abnormal cells can be found before the cells have turned to proper cancers or at least at a very early stage. I’m just undecided about actual selection of embryos because I worry that it might be used as a way of creating a ‘perfect child’ too.

Hi Suzanne, please be assaurred that i was not in the least bit offended x i think its good that we can discuss these issues on here as its not discussed enough in the real world