The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has issued a preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) licence for inherited colon cancer

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has confirmed that it has issued a preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) licence for Familial Adenomatous Polyposis Coli (FAP) to the Assisted Conception Unit at University College Hospital, London.

FAP is an inherited genetic severe colon condition with onset in many cases occurring in children in their early teens. It leads to multiple rectal and colon cancers in early adulthood for almost all of those affected by the condition. Those affected are likely to have prophylactic surgery in their early teens to remove their colon.

Any clinic wishing to carry out PGD must first obtain a licence from the HFEA. The HFEA issues licences for PGD where the embryo is at significant risk of developing a serious condition. All PGD applications are sent out to a minimum of two peer reviewers and decisions are taken by HFEA licence committees who consider all the scientific, legal, ethical and medical information.

FAP is a serious condition - prenatal diagnosis and selective termination of affected cases has been offered in the past. Families with the genetic condition have a 50 per cent chance of passing it on to their children, but using PGD can help these families have a healthy child.

The HFEA undertook with the Human Genetic Commission, a public consultation on attitudes to PGD and issued a report in November 2001. The recommendations of this report informed the development of HFEA’s policy and guidance on PGD and clinical decision making.

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