In a previous post (“Clarifying misuse of Science“) I expressed concerns over Prenatal testing for familial hypercholesterolemia. Now it seems I should have included two more (and in my mind, – more controversial) tests approved in the UK for preimplantation testing preceding IVF. These are tests for breast cancer (BRCA1) and early onset Alzheimer.
Especially the case of BRCA1 worries me. True, the prevention (mastectomy) is a horrible ordeal for the patient, but is this sufficient grounds for excluding eggs for IVF ? Can’t you live a reasonably happy and normal life after such a procedure (see breast reconstruction) ?
Why haven’t there been more fuzz around this ? Is everyone going to be using prestested eggs in IVF now ? And what are the limits on acceptable tests, will testing for athletic performance become an exclusion criterion soon ?
I must have been naive to so strongly oppose the slippery slope argument in genetic testing discussions up until now. I wish we could restrain ourselves a bit more, but fear that we can’t.
The solution is to come up with treatments for most of these conditions (although treating athletic performance may constitute a problem in terms of the number of people needing treatment as well as treatment alternatives…..).
Treatment alternatives need to appear soon if we’re to avoid the brave new world future that critics of the genetics era have been promoting …..
The “find a cure” process however, is not going to be fast and in the 10-25 years to follow, those concerned couples that have the option of BRCA1 and Alzheimer testing will most likely not take the chance that a treatment will be found in time for their child to be cured…….., – and opt for the safer pretested egg and IVF.
Seeing that the slope is becoming slippery I have decided not to argue for genetic testing any further, and if this trend continues, – argue against, at least until treatment options appear (the next 25? years) or a sensible limit for testing is drawn (right now, – please).