While Practical Gene Editing is Years Away, Shady Grove Fertility Has Treatment Available Now for Diagnosing Genetic Diseases in Embryos

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While the groundbreaking gene editing technology has potential to change the DNA sequence in a gamete or embryo, clinical trials and practical use within reproductive medicine is years away. However, genetic screening and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which is available today at Shady Grove Fertility, can help prevent men and women from passing along single-gene diseases to their children and provides patients with 65 percent pregnancy rate per embryo transfer

Recessive Genes

Approximately, one out of every 280 babies born worldwide has a genetic disease that could be detected by carrier screening. By screening patients prior to pregnancy, we can prevent passing along the disorder to the next generation.

This month, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine released a report that concluded clinical trials for gene editing with human gametes (egg or sperm) or embryos may be permitted. While this transformative technology may one day allow for DNA to be cut and rewritten—essentially eliminating genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis or cancer causing genes such as BRCA; its proven safe use within the field of reproductive medicine is still many years away.

For women and men who are carriers of genetic disorders, there are cutting-edge genetic treatment options available today at Shady Grove Fertility to help them have children free of inherited disease.

For patients with a known family history of monogenetic disorders, or those who proactively would like to be tested, Shady Grove Fertility offers a screening panel of over 100 of the most common single-gene diseases. According to Dr. Jeanne E. O’Brien, reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility in Rockville, MD, “Approximately, one out of every 280 babies born worldwide has a genetic disease that could be detected by carrier screening. By screening patients prior to pregnancy, we can prevent passing along the disorder to the next generation. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can determine which embryos are unaffected by a genetic disorder and available for transfer.”

Dr. O’Brien adds, “Many pregnancies are unplanned or carrier screening was not offered/accepted in a prior pregnancy. These patients find out they are carriers of a genetic disorder when they give birth to an affected child. The age of genomic medicine is also resulting in the widespread ability to detect cancer causing genes, giving affected families the ability to prevent transmission to future children.”

The process of PGD allows Shady Grove Fertility to check embryos for the correct number of chromosomes also called comprehensive chromosomal screening (CCS). The goal is the same, to identify the healthiest embryos for transfer. Age related chromosomal errors are the most common genetic abnormality in the embryo and the leading cause of failed implantation and miscarriage. We offer all patients undergoing IVF treatment the option of CCS.

“The future of reproductive medicine will most likely include treatment options where changes to the DNA of gametes or embryos will be possible,” explains Dr. O’Brien. “However, today, reproductive technology can help the vast majority of people with known monogenetic disorders conceive healthy children.”

About Shady Grove Fertility
Shady Grove Fertility is a leading fertility and IVF center of excellence offering patients individualized care, innovative financial options, and pregnancy rates among the highest of all national centers. 2016 commemorated 25 years of Shady Grove Fertility providing medical and service excellence to patients from all 50 states and 35 countries around the world, and over 40,000 babies born—more than any other center in the nation. Today, 39 physicians, supported by a highly specialized team of more than 700 Ph.D. scientists, geneticists, and staff care for patients in 19 full-service offices and six satellite sites throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Shady Grove Fertility physicians actively train residents and reproductive endocrinology fellows and invest in continuous clinical research and education to advance the field of reproductive medicine through numerous academic appointments and partnerships such as Georgetown Medical School, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the University of Maryland, and the National Institutes of Health. More than 1,700 physicians refer their patients to Shady Grove Fertility each year. For more information, call 1-888-761-1967 or visit ShadyGroveFertility.com.

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Courtney Flantzer

Kasey Murphy
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