London, January 10 (ANI): Britain's first baby to be from a potentially deadly breast cancer gene is due to be born next week, and doctors are hoping that the child will breakt the family history of the disease.
Doctors at University College Hospital in London say that the baby's birth is also significant because it gives new hope for many other families that carry the same gene that increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
They have revealed that they used a new test to screen a 27-year-old woman's embryos, and specifically select those that did not carry the gene.
According to them, the woman and her husband agreed to undergo the screening procedure because they were afraid of passing on the inherited susceptibility to the disease.
The doctors have revealed that he is a carrier of the BRCA 1 gene, and that three generations of his family have been diagnosed with breast cancer while in their twenties, including his mother, sister, cousin and his grandmother.
Women carrying the gene are said to have 50 to 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer at some point in their lives.
Radical operations, including the removal of breasts, have previously been performed on women identified as carriers of the gene so that they might avoid contracting the cancer.
"We have been working on this breakthrough for a long time and the mother is now about to deliver," the Telegraph quoted Professor Paul Serhal, who treated the couple, as saying.
"This is the first British baby who has been born to break the cycle of this disease passing through a family.
"And we have shown that a procedure which until recently was just a research tool can be used to help patients," he added.
Talking about her decision to try genetic screening, the woman said: "I thought this was something I had to try because, if we had a daughter with the gene, and she was ill, I couldn't look her in the face and say I didn't try."
Professor Serhal agrees that the child would not be the carrier of the BRCA 1 gene even if it was a girl, but she might still contract breast cancer due to other factors.
"But what we have done is remove that strong extra risk," said Professor Serhal.
Explaining as to how the screening procedure is conducted, the expert revealed that doctors screen for the gene by examining a single cell removed from the embryo when it is around three days old, and from that they make out which of the embryos do not carry the breast cancer gene.
The embryos without the breast cancer gene are later implanted into the womb using IVF treatment, he added.
Dr Alan Thornhill, from the London Bridge Fertility, Gynaecology and Genetics Centre, said: "While the technology and approach used in this case is fairly routine, it is the first time in the UK that a family has successfully eliminated a mutant breast cancer gene for their child. It is a victory for both the parents and the regulatory body that licensed this treatment." (ANI)