We don’t know enough yet to effectively pick embryos to get smarter, taller children, study says

Image: Victor Fraile Rodriguez

Despite advances in understanding the combined effects of multiple genes on complex traits in humans, efforts to choose embryos based on the likelihood of their carrying such traits would be unlikely to meet with much success, researchers report today [November 21] in Cell.

In the study, [researcher Shai] Carmi and his colleagues used data from genetic studies to simulate what would happen if various pairings of people were to have children together and use PGD, aided by polygenic scores, to maximize the height or IQ of their offspring. If doctors had 10 embryos to choose from for a couple, such selection could result in a gain of about three IQ points or three centimeters, compared with the average for those embryos, the researchers found.

Related article:  University student reflection: Let's take a balanced ethical and scientific look at genetic engineering

To see how often these DNA-based predictions were likely to hold up for individuals, the researchers also analyzed genetic and other data on 28 families with large numbers of children. In only seven of those families was the tallest child the one predicted by a polygenic risk score, they found—and in five families, the child predicted to be tallest was in fact shorter than the average for that family.

Read full, original post: Selecting Embryos for IQ, Height Not Currently Practical: Study

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