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BABY BORN FREE OF CANCER GENE; First embryo screen success for UK medics.

Byline: By Mike Swain

A MUM has given birth to the first baby in the UK genetically selected to be free of a breast cancer gene.

The baby girl grew from an embryo screened to ensure it did not contain the faulty BRCA 1 gene, which carries the risk of triggering breast cancer.

Women in three generations of her father's family were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20s Any girl born with the gene has a 50 to 85 per cent risk of developing breast cancer.

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

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.

"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 a family for generations."

The 27-year-old mum, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "If there was a possibility of eliminating this for our children, then that was a route we had to go down."

Doctors at the private clinic housed at University College Hospital conducted tests on 11 embryos by removing just one cell from each when they were three days old.

Six carried the defective BRCA1 gene. Two embryos which were free of the gene were implanted, resulting in a single pregnancy.

The technique, known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, has already been used in the UK to free babies of inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis.

Faulty genes are responsible for five to 10 per cent of the 44,000 cases of breast cancer in the UK each year. BRCA1 and its sister gene BRCA2 are the two most common.

Women with a defective BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are up to seven times more likely to develop breast cancer than those without the mutations.

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SPECTRE: Serhal
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 10, 2009
Words:334
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