Genetic screening of embryos for Alzheimer’s but hiding results from parents

Doctors are devising new ways to shield patients from information about their odds for disease as genetic testing becomes more common in research, fertility treatment and other areas.

Svetlana Rechitsky and her colleagues at Reproductive Genetic Innovations, a Northbrook, Ill., genetics lab for infertility clinics, took blood samples from a patient undergoing in vitro fertilization and cheek swabs from the patient’s parents. From those things, they created an individualized panel of genetic markers that could be used to screen the couple’s fertilized eggs, including for a specific gene mutation associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

If the patient had just one copy of the mutation, she would develop an early-onset form of Alzheimer’s that runs in her family on her mother’s side. (The lab conducted its cheek-swab test before her mother’s death.)

After testing, the doctors selected two embryos that didn’t contain the Alzheimer’s mutation for implantation in the patient. Rechitsky, who is head of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and in vitro fertilization at the lab, never tested the patient’s own DNA. Nor was the patient told how many of her embryos likely contained the genetic mutation. So while the patient successfully avoided learning whether she had the Alzheimer’s mutation, she was able to ensure her children definitely didn’t have it.


Read full, original article: Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s – Without Revealing the Results

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