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Baby To Be Born Without the Gene For Breast Cancer

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.

Biotech 259

manoftin writes to tell us that next week a baby will be born without the gene for breast cancer, according to the BBC. "But he said that, in this case, not carrying the BRCA1 gene would not guarantee any daughter born to the couple would be unaffected by breast cancer because there are other genetic and environmental causes. Dr Alan Thornhill, scientific director of 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 HFEA that licensed this treatment.'"

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259 comments

Tough choice (4, Insightful)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179245)

For once, I'll recommend to RTFA first before commenting. It's a tough choice.

On one hand, it's great that a family with such a tough hereditary problem can know that their kids and grand-kids won't be affected. On the other hand, I'm just so scared of the consequences: we are playing with nature and past experience shows that we usually don't fully understand the long-term consequences of our actions. We usually regret such experiments.

But who am I to tell this family to go ahead and accept brest cancer? Can you look them in the eye and say "choose cancer"?

--
fairsoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] -- Software Bill Of Rights: transparency, equal rights and revenue sharing

Re:Tough choice (5, Insightful)

EdipisReks (770738) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179337)

On the other hand, I'm just so scared of the consequences: we are playing with nature and past experience shows that we usually don't fully understand the long-term consequences of our actions. We usually regret such experiments.

nature played with us first, it's only fair that we reciprocate.

FR2FR2FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179373)

Slashdot trolling phenomena make up a large subset of the bizarre and complex subculture found on the popular technology website Slashdot. They are a mixture of juvenilia, sarcasm, deliberately bad jokes, tasteless nonsense and highly developed and artistic attempts to provoke outraged responses from other forum users, or amuse them. Slashdot trolling is a subset and a microcosm of Internet trolling in general. Some of these behaviours are usually considered to be more offensive or insightful than others. On Slashdot, many of these phenomena have become the object of parody.

Slashdot trolls can generally be divided into four categories: disruptive, offensive, deceptive, and idiosyncratic. Disruptive trolls are those which intend to disrupt the normal flow of things on Slashdot, either by decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio or by causing the pages to render incorrectly. Offensive trolls exist for the sole purpose of offending as many people as possible. The purpose of deceptive trolls is to trick people into either following a link or reading a comment which seems legitimate but is actually a troll. Idiosyncratic trolls are those which are specific to Slashdot and have elements of Slashdot culture and history in them creating, in effect, an inside joke.

Re:FR2FR2FP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179611)

Slashdorks like to play with their "juvenilia".

Re:Tough choice (1, Insightful)

Rayban (13436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179493)

But nature has a lot longer than us to retaliate. It's like that creepy guy in the office you pissed off a few years ago - he's just waiting for the right time to get you back.

Re:Tough choice (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179755)

After reading your post, I realized that I am the creepy guy in my office. Oh my God. Oh my God. I need a drink now.

Re:Tough choice (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180399)

You know what goes best with a drink? A side of revenge. Just saying.

Re:Tough choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180631)

I would suggest having it cold. I've been told that it's better that way.

Re:Tough choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180689)

Who wants a warm drink? Yuck.

Re:Tough choice (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180753)

Yeah, no kidding. "Waiter, some ice for my Irish coffee please?"

Re:Tough choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180923)

But... that's my stapler.

Re:Tough choice (3, Insightful)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179645)

"Oh, so mother nature needs a favor? Well, maybe she should have thought of that when she was besetting us with droughts and floods and poison monkeys."

To add a bit of my own to this, we require nature to survive, nature does not require us. That's not to say that we cannot play by the same rules in order to game the system so-to-speak. But if we should end up failing, nature will just keep on going.

Re:Tough choice (3, Insightful)

Hungus (585181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179393)

Best advice from the article: "In addition, we must not forget the embryos which were discarded because they did carry the gene."

now the part that will unfortunately get me modded flamebait:
The easiest way to make certain someone never gets a disease is to kill them before the get it. There are plenty of children needing adoption for this entire scenario to have been avoided

Re:Tough choice (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179545)

Plenty of children, but not plenty of infants. There's a lack of babies, if you want to adopt and take less than a few years you're limited to grown children. Many of them have emotional or physical handicaps and severe mental issues. Anyone who adopts one gets high praise from me, but I don't fault anyone who doesn't have the courage to do so. And most people want a baby that they can raise from birth, not someone already halfway grown.

Re:Tough choice (3, Funny)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179635)

I want to adopt a 25/yr old w/ his own apartment and steady job.

Re:Tough choice (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179715)

Settle for 26? :)

Re:Tough choice (0, Offtopic)

popeye44 (929152) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179833)

me too, preferably they will have their own basement with at least a ds3. :-]

Re:Tough choice (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180367)

according to national adoption statistics 36% of all children up for adoption are under age 3

Re:Tough choice (3, Interesting)

g2devi (898503) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180419)

Actually, in Ancient Roman society, babies were never adopted...only teens. Why? Because when children reach their teens, you can know their character and if you want to trust them with carrying on your inheritance and your family name. With babies, you never know they'll turn up. In the nature versus nurture forming of character, you might provide good nurture but still turn out bad because of nature (aka genetics).

Re:Tough choice (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179633)

only the embryos are no more a human than that egg you had for breakfast is a chicken. i'm not saying you are one of them, but it boogles my mind when people try play the ethics card with the end result being people having some incurable genetic illness. whats ethical about allowing someone to die a horrible death from cancer when you could have most likely been prevented?

Re:Tough choice (5, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179811)

only the embryos are no more a human than that egg you had for breakfast is a chicken

I disagree. Most of those eggs in the supermarket are unfertilized. A fertilized egg is an actual chicken. I just don't care about chickens as much as I do people. You can't point to any one spot in an embryo's development (except fertilization) and say "There. Now it is human." With that ambiguity, is it not better to err on the side of caution?

with the end result being people having some incurable genetic illness.

Are the majority of disabled individuals unhappy that they are alive? It's not our place to make that judgment for them.

whats ethical about allowing someone to die a horrible death from cancer when you could have most likely been prevented?

This isn't really prevention. Sure, the child that is born will have a reduced risk of breast cancer, but that is because they simply throw out the ones that don't meet their criteria. So instead of having a higher chance of dying from breast cancer, these rejects have a guarantee of dying because their chances are higher than the one that was selected.

Re:Tough choice (5, Insightful)

Chris Daniel (807289) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180031)

You can't point to any one spot in an embryo's development (except fertilization) and say "There. Now it is human." With that ambiguity, is it not better to err on the side of caution?

FTFA:

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) involves taking a cell from an embryo at the eight-cell stage of development, when it is around three-days old, and testing it.

I can certainly point to this spot and say "There. It is not yet human." It is eight cells. What counts is a nervous system and perhaps some sort of brain function. We can surely agree on some sort of "fuzzy" criteria that say "if it looks like it could feel pain or might be self-aware, don't kill it." I think this stage is safely below any such possible criteria.

I understand wanting to protect life, but saying that even the potential for life must be protected can be taken to absurd extremes -- as religious proscription of contraceptive measures has shown -- and is really just absurd in itself.

Re:Tough choice (5, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180245)

What counts is a nervous system and perhaps some sort of brain function

So 5 minutes before we could identify brain function, it isn't alive? The boundary is just too fuzzy. An embryo hasn't developed a great deal compared to where it was a hour beforehand.

I understand wanting to protect life, but saying that even the potential for life must be protected can be taken to absurd extremes -- as religious proscription of contraceptive measures has shown -- and is really just absurd in itself.

I agree, potential for life != life. That's why I don't care one way or the other about preventive contraception. But I am not of the opinion that a fertilized egg is merely "potential life".
I feel that conception is a good point because it is the single most defining instant of a human's development. The eggs and sperm won't grow into an adult human on their own, no matter how much nutrients you give them. An embryo will.

Re:Tough choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180653)

It's not about if it's life or not, it's about if it's human or not. I'm sure you don't think twice about all the microbes when you wash your hand, what makes it okay to kill those microbes? What makes it okay to eat a chicken? Step on a roach? Setup mouse traps?

We can even extrapolate this to ask questions like is it wrong to turn off a computer, a chatbot, or a fully self aware AI. Is it okay to kill a roach that can do math? A robot that can cry? I consider something "human" when a brain capable of becoming a human brain has fired off its first thought.

Re:Tough choice (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180917)

At the point of conception, you have a single-celled organism. It's characteristics:
- It regulates its internal environment.
- It is composed of one or more cells.
- It consumes energy and creates cellular components.
- It grows.
- It responds to stimuli.
- It reproduces new cells.

These are the characteristics we use to define a single-celled bacteria as life. So it seems that at conception we can safely assume that the zygote is life.

Other characteristic:
- It has a unique set of DNA.

This is the characteristic we currently use to define life as a separate entity, ie not the mother, and not the father.

Ok, so it's alive and it's not the mother or the father.

At this point, you are asserting that this living creature is not human. You believe it will be human, but that it isn't at this point, and that's the justification for killing it.

To be correct, these must be true:
- Forms of life can change species during their lifetime.
- A species cannot be defined by a subset or compared difference of DNA.
- Based exclusively on the premise that the creature is not human, killing is moral.

I'd be interested to know if you believe those three things.

Re:Tough choice (1)

winwar (114053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180993)

"At this point, you are asserting that this living creature is not human. You believe it will be human, but that it isn't at this point, and that's the justification for killing it."

Nice strawman.

Re:Tough choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180983)

Life doesn't begin, it only ends. A human sperm or egg cell is as much a human as a zygote in the vague squishy birds-eye viewpoint you're taking. A chicken egg, whether fertilized or not, doesn't become a chicken --- it is a chicken. For metazoans, it's all part of the circle of life. Some metazoans spend the bulk of their lives in the haploid phase.

As someone who's had honestly too much training in the life sciences for my own good, I really don't see why you would say that fertilization would be the point someone becomes "human". It's simply the start of our diploid life phase. When you think about it, we've actually been able to use technology to prolong our haploid phase and extend our gametes decades into the future with cryogenics. That's pretty f'n abnormal.

Really, when you say "human" I think you mean "person". Many cultures throughout history have had "naming" or "coming of age" ceremonies to delimit the beginning of "personhood". The ages at which these occurred were usually coincident with decreasing odds of infant mortality (after the first year of life for example).

Ovulation is an event. Ejaculation is an event. Fertilization is an event. Birth is an event. The first word spoken is an event. First time standing up, another event. Any of these would be a fine time to declare personhood. But I gotta say that at any point between the third and fourth event, the magic eight ball says "Outlook Uncertain" to the question of whether or not we'll ever see a brand new actualized person walking around. Fertilization just means fertilization. Any extra significance you pretend can be attributed to your religion. (I personally believe the soul enters the sperm head at ejaculation.)

Re:Tough choice (1)

miro f (944325) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180311)

And your friend is no more human than the chicken you just ate is a chicken. You don't go eating people, though. We have different rules for animals and people.

Note that for the record I'm both pro-choice and love a good parma. I just don't agree with your argument.

Re:Tough choice (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179399)

It's okay. Cancer of the mutant breast can be easily eradicated with mutant X-rays.

Re:Tough choice (4, Informative)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179419)

All that happened was screening. They didn't screw with nature, they just took a peek to see whether the embryo had the gene or not.

Re:Tough choice (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179577)

All that happened was screening. They didn't screw with nature, they just took a peek to see whether the embryo had the gene or not.

That's all they did in GATTACA too. Screen embryos for (un)desirable genetic traits, and pick which one to implant. That's exactly what they did here.

Re:Tough choice (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179723)

They also gave addition features. However that's not the bad part about GATTACA.
It's a story about society, and what it became.
Whether it's people with genetic changes, or blue hair, or aliens. makes no difference. it's a story about discrimination.

Re:Tough choice (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179963)

They also gave addition features.

I just re-watched the movie a few days ago, and they did not perform any genetic manipulation. They merely screened thousands and thousands of embryos and selected the "best" one. That's part of what's so fascinating about the movie, that the only sci-fi involved is the extremely fast and predictive genetic tests.

Well, and manned missions to Titan, but you get my point.

Whether it's people with genetic changes, or blue hair, or aliens. makes no difference. it's a story about discrimination.

That's absolutely true. I'm just pointing out the same issues are present here. Not with this case directly. But as it becomes cheaper, easier, more reliable, and we can screen for more things. First it only made sense for cases where there was a guarantee of a serious inherited disease. Now it's used for a case where there's a very high risk of a serious disease associated with the gene. Next will be lower risk factors, or diseases with less serious consequences. Past that, we'll have to start making the same hard choices about how we want to proceed that the society of GATTACA had to make before it crystallized into the form in the movie.

Don't get me wrong, there's no way I could say that this particular case is anything but an amazing advance of medicine and a good thing. But that's how tough ethical choices begin, isn't it.

Re:Tough choice (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179795)

GATTACA is a movie, not real life. It is worth thinking about, sure, but it should not be taken as a gospel prediction of what must happen if certain actions are taken.

Re:Tough choice (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180117)

Yeah, if that was my point, that'd be pretty ironic, since a major theme of the movie is the folly of determinism.

But it's not. My point is that we do (or rather will) have to consider the same ethical questions the movie raises, and it doesn't require genetic manipulation.

Re:Tough choice (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180621)


But it's not. My point is that we do (or rather will) have to consider the same ethical questions the movie raises, and it doesn't require genetic manipulation.

Do you really believe genetic screening hasn't been going on for years? Amniocentesis and the ability to diagnose downs syndrome in a fetus has been around for 40 years. I don't know how long it's been a routine procedure, but I'd guess 20 years or more.

The movie is still a movie, and I really don't think the "issues" that it raises are going to be the hard ones (nor is this breast cancer thing a hard question).

He's an example of a hard question for you. Suppose we find a gene that highly correlates with homosexuality.. let's say 80%. What then? Here's a slightly easier one (and likely more plausible). What do we do about fetal testing for deafness? (I think we've already found genes responsible for that).
 

Re:Tough choice (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180339)

That's all they did in GATTACA too.

We need a new acronym: WTFM (or RTFB?)

Re:Tough choice (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180389)

Yes, and apparently you need to WTFM.

Re:Tough choice (5, Insightful)

Conception (212279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180685)

GATTACA always bothered me since you don't see Vincent's success, only that he was lucky enough to trick the system. Despite the movie's message, in the end he wasn't fit enough to go, his heart wasn't strong enough as shown in the treadmill scene, and his eyesight was a serious liability. I always had to wonder at the end of the movie when he's going into space if his heart gave out in the second month, or he lost a contact or some other thing that they tried to screen for that cost the success of the mission and potentially the lives of the other members of the crew.

I know the message the movie was giving, and in terms of his relationship with what's her face it seemed to be more poignant, but I couldn't help think that his actions were all hubris and were a huge risk to the mission and its crew.

Re:Tough choice (1, Insightful)

winwar (114053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26181047)

"GATTACA always bothered me since you don't see Vincent's success, only that he was lucky enough to trick the system."

So he was good enough to circumvent a system designed to prevent people like him from acheiving success and you say he wasn't successful? Just what exactly is your definition of success?!?

"I know the message the movie was giving, .... but I couldn't help think that his actions were all hubris and were a huge risk to the mission and its crew."

And what happened if one of those "qualified" people tripped and broke their neck, or made a bad decision that led to mission failure, or a faulty part on the craft killed them all, etc.

One of the points of the movie that genes are not the sum of the person.

Re:Tough choice (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179459)

Can you look them in the eye and say "choose cancer"?

No, no I can't. I can, however, look them in the eye and say that removing any amount of genetic material or replacing it can have unexpected results. I'm not a biologist of any sort but we still don't have a full understanding of the human genome. Mapping, sure, but we're largely ignorant of what everything does.

Assuming they can assure that this will only effect the cancer risk, then they should go for it.

I recall a study [discovermagazine.com] that removed what was thought of as "junk DNA" from mice. In which case, they were badly deformed and doomed from birth because that "junk" was actually acting as a decoy or buffer or something (I don't think they ever really figured it out) to absorb deformities. From the article:

Hirotsune's team made their discovery during an unrelated study in which they inserted a fruit fly gene into embryonic mice. The fruit fly DNA disrupted the mouse pseudogene for makorin1, a gene thought to be associated with bone and kidney development. Most of the mice in this line died within days of birth, exhibiting severe kidney and bone deformities, even though the proper makorin1 gene was unaffected. Putting additional copies of makorin1 or its pseudogene into the mice helped only somewhat. But when Hirotsune reintroduced an intact copy of the original pseudogene into mouse embryos, the animals developed normally.

So assuming this gene has no other function unfortunately might be something we don't find out ... until we try it.

I sincerely wish them and their offspring the best of luck at leading full healthy lives. Were I in their place, I would be considering adoption.

Re:Tough choice (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179617)

In which case, they were badly deformed and doomed from birth because that "junk" was actually acting as a decoy or buffer or something (I don't think they ever really figured it out) to absorb deformities.

There was an article on /. not so long ago about the discovery that the "junk" DNA, and even proteins attached to the DNA, were responsible for regulating gene expression and what proteins were synthesized by genes.

So it's possible that removing the junk wasn't so much like removing a buffer to mutation as it was actively causing massive mutation.

Re:Tough choice (2, Informative)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180809)

Of course, in the article's case, they didn't remove anything. They screened out the embryos that had the undesirable gene. It's like the difference between buying a car with an automatic and trying to convert it to manual, versus only considering cars that come with manual transmissions when shopping.

I do think it's fascinating that so much of the "junk" DNA may actually do something useful. It'll be interesting to find out exactly what.

Re:Tough choice (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179563)

No there's really no tough choice there, dichotomies are not necessary in those situations you know. It's just screening, rejecting embryos that are much much more likely than others to end up being people with breast cancer. It's about as much playing God as picking lemons at the grocery store is.

Re:Tough choice (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179789)

What's with the sig at the bottom? Have seen this one the past weeks at least 5 times... You're just piggy backing slashdot to promote your business?

Re:Tough choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180185)

Let's see - almost certainly have a terminal disease in your lifetime or MAYBE hypothetically potentially have some other problem down the line. I know which one I'd choose.

So where are all the "breast cancer community" advocates at to tell us how this is a bad idea and how people who do it are terrible, because they are offending the breast cancer community the same way deaf or blind communities often ostracize people who get surgeries to return their sight or hearing.

Re:Tough choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180381)

Can you look them in the eye and say "choose cancer"?

Is that an advert for Mondo Medicals [experimentalgameplay.com] ?

Re:Tough choice (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180413)

Depends what they "choose cancer" over. (yeah, yeah, doesn't apply in this case, but eventually will, so I'm going to consider the general case where it does.) We know that the nucleic DNA coding isn't the only thing that creates specific proteins. Junk DNA alters the interpretation, as do some of the other molecules that hang around the DNA.

If you were to edit that segment of code, you cannot be certain (with today's knowledge) what impact that will have. The retrovirus method of inserting DNA caused a rare form of leukaemia in some people as I recall. It is possible that unfortunate side-effect was due to accidentally altering the metadata or some other aspect of the coding in unexpected ways, or perhaps having the defective (but switched-off) gene still present caused problems as its own metadata would also still be present but would likely still have been active.

Therefore, altering DNA to remove the gene for one form of cancer (which can be treated) may increase your chances of getting a much less treatable cancer, or one that can't be treated at all. It might have all kinds of other nasty effects that we've yet to discover. Genetic science is still very much in its infancy. Bear in mind that if you start counting from when DNA was first discovered, about as much time has passed as had when the Apple IIe and Commodore PET were the latest in home computing. If you start counting from when the human genome was first transcribed, we're closer to the era of Colossus and ENIAC.

That's not an unfair comparison - look at deCODEme's lists of identifiable genetic diseases [decodeme.com] and genetic traits [decodeme.com] . Not very long, are they? And they don't require much in the way of hard evidence to add something to those lists, either - two studies will do it. We can assume anything not on those lists has evidence too weak even to pass such minimal muster, which is just about everything, and they don't even get into such things as DNA metadata and other coding abnormalities. That isn't too distant from the best knowledge the top-of-their-field experts had in computer science at Bletchley Park and certainly sounds very much like the state of homebrew computing in the late 70s - bits and pieces of wisdom with an awareness of lots of blank spots.

(Science moves a lot faster these days, but genetics is a lot more complex, so it all balances out. Twenty, maybe thirty, years down the road, genetic editing might be as safe and reliable as Open Source is today. Mind you, Firefox keeps crashing on me and I can never keep Bygfoot going past three seasons. Hmmm. Better make that forty from now, then, to be on the safe side.)

Re:Tough choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180613)

The parents/doctors are not playing with nature. maybe you did RTFA, but you dont seem to have understood it. All they did was fertilize a bunch of embryos and decide which one they wanted based on the criteria that they DIDNT have the mutant gene.

If the couple had had 4 or 5 babies 'naturally', chances are 2-3 of them would have had the mutation and 2-3 of them wouldn't. They took a random chance for a massive mistake away from nature.

As always, the headline is WAY misleading. If there's one thing i wish people would understand about science news...It's that the headline is always overblown and the information is always dumbed-down to the point of uselessness.

Intelligent Design! (2, Insightful)

z-j-y (1056250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179273)

(is it a boy or a girl?)

Re:Intelligent Design! (2, Informative)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179395)

Moot point. This cancer is possible in both sexes.

Re:Intelligent Design! (3, Informative)

nbert (785663) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179653)

IIRC the ratio between women and men affected by breast cancer is 100:1. So it makes a big difference.

However, those statistics are about breast cancer in general. Maybe someone with a medical background can enlighten us about the specific ratio of BRCA1.

Re:Intelligent Design! (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180387)

Familial breast cancer does affect men, but still a lower risk than for women with the same gene.

In the long run (1)

tripmine (1160123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180435)

Either way, the desirable trait of not having the breast Cancer gene will be passed on to the next generation, which might include girls. If not that one, then the next, and so on...

New how? (4, Informative)

againjj (1132651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179321)

I don't understand what the real difference is from other types of embryo screening. Sure, there was a different method of screening here, but otherwise screening like this has been going on for a while. No new ethical implications that I see.

No proof (0, Flamebait)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179325)

No proof of not getting the cancer. No idea of what else the genetic manipulation may have brought on. Mad science...

Sure, if genetic therapy is going to be the way of the future, genetic therapy tests need to be done, but testing this out on people, with *no* idea of the consequences is reprehensible...

Re:No proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179541)

Is not "genetic manipulation". More like "artificial selection"; they just cut off all of the embryos that had the gene before re-implanting in the mother. There is no new science here, and the only moral issues are ones that have been trumpeted up and down by the "pro-life" and "pro-choice" lobbies for decades.

Re:No proof (3, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179601)

It's bloody SCREENING. They're not putting together genes for fuck's sake! And as for "no proof" thing, it's all about odds, i.e. going from "very likely to get cancer" to "about as likely as the general population".

God, bored people can be so full of shit, can't take a piece of good news without having to wave the Impending Doom stick.

Re:No proof (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179705)

Well said.

Re:No proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180305)

Actually, since they removed this gene, it's *less* likely to get cancer than the general population.

Re:No proof (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179731)

"No proof of not getting the cancer. "

Dude, seriously? No proof of not? You can't prove a negative.

Re:No proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179815)

You can't prove a negative.

Prove it.

Re:No proof (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180459)

Theorem 1: You can't prove a negative.
Postulare: You can't prove a negative.
By theorem 1...
QED!

Re:No proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179931)

I dunno. I am fairly certain it would be easy to prove that if you subtract eighty-five from glavenoid's IQ, the result is a negative number.

Re:No proof (1)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180013)

Not only would it possibly be negative, I doubt it would be prime :-(

I need to quit posting here whilst drinking.

Re:No proof (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180467)

Well, you can prove that sqrt(2) is not rational.

Really, I think you want to say "You can't prove a scientific result/theory".

And os it begins... (2, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179377)

The first step is taken on the road to GATTACA.*

*
*A movie about children being screened for superior genes - and also the children who become "rejects" in society because they were naturally born with inferior genes. If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend it. A great science story.

Re:And os it begins... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179695)

"A great science fiction story."

Fixed it for you.

Probably Bad Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179409)

It's probably not the BRCA1 gene deleted, but the allele on BRCA1 associated with breast cancer is not present. The BRCA1 from Dad and the BRCA1 from Mom don't have the bad polymorphism on the gene.

I betcha the BRCA1 genes are there but the reporter is not good at science.

Only Breast Cancer? (1, Insightful)

hawkeye_82 (845771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179429)

Is it possible for a gene to map to more than just one function?
If so, now that they've eliminated this gene, isn't it possible that they might have eliminated more than just breast cancer?

Re:Only Breast Cancer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179539)

they were screening for a mutant gene known to cause breast cancer. pretty sure the child has functional version also.

damn you (5, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179437)

Ayyy there wait one god-lovin minute!! You can make God-n-baby Jesus's decisions for dem!!! You damn city slickers er goin da hell yah hear?!?!?! If God wants someone da have tit cancer they'll have it!! You city slickers n yer crazy scientific method... *spits in empty faygo bottle*

Re:damn you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180777)

yeah... that unintelligent redneck creationist stereotype isn't old yet.

We need gene engineering like this (1)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179455)

Otherwise, the robots will take over.

Re:We need gene engineering like this (4, Funny)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179639)

Mod parent up, I've just come back from the future.

Re:We need gene engineering like this (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179983)

Parent poster is a robot, do not believe its lies!

Re:We need gene engineering like this (1)

Emperor Zombie (1082033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179681)

So the robots kill us off with breast cancer?
Sneaky bastards.

Re:We need gene engineering like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180219)

That's why I have a robots.txt well placed.

Not quite so straightforward (2, Informative)

estitabarnak (654060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179471)

BRCA1 is a known proto-oncogene with the potential to become an oncogene. That is, there are known, relatively common mutations that can occur on BRCA1 that will cause it to malfunction and cause/support cancer. However, in it's normal working function, BRCA1 is actually a tumor suppressor. So there is the distinct possibility that by knocking out BRCA that other, unintended consequences will result...

Re:Not quite so straightforward (4, Informative)

quenda (644621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180407)

by knocking out BRCA that other, unintended consequences will result...

They are not knocking it out. They are selecting an embryo which has inherited the good (not known bad) copy of the BRCA gene.

The HFEA license scheme involves activation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179489)

And if see doesn't activate within 30 years, she turns black.

like to suck on dem titties (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26179555)

mmmmmmm yeah, that'll givem cancer

hold the phone (3, Informative)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179597)

"licensed this treatment"?

That is without a doubt one of the scariest things I've read lately.

It's good to see that /. hasn't lost its focus... (1)

Nybble's Byte (321886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179615)

Breasts!

Re:It's good to see that /. hasn't lost its focus. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180331)

Here on Slashdot, we focus on breasts. In Soviet Russia, Breasts focus on you! (We should be so lucky!)

big deal (2, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179629)

Most babies are born not wearing any jeans at all!

Re:big deal (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179809)

The funny in your post is the word 'most'.

A gene, not THE gene (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179667)

Although it does its best not to, the BBC article does make it clear that the baby lacks BRCA1, a gene which was involved in a staggering prevalence of breast cancer in the family. However many other genes involved in breast cancer may still be present.

Re:A gene, not THE gene (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180423)

However many other genes involved in breast cancer may still be present.

And most breast cancers are not due to hereditary causes.

Nice (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179677)

Now a line of decedents will be healthier.
Bring on the high tech medicine!
I still want a replacement clone and a head transplant.
I want the body I had at 22.

Re:Nice (1)

typobox43 (677545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26179855)

Decedents are rarely healthy.

Let me be the first (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180237)

to welcome our new eugenically conceived supermen overloads.

HAIL KHAN!

Eugenics (2, Insightful)

mgrivich (1015787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180391)

We have a word for this, and the word is eugenics. How long until the threshold for undesirability is softened to a heart condition, or baldness? How long until the decisions are politically or religiously motivated? Killing the undesirables so that the "proper" children may thrive is a lesson we should not have to learn again. Yes, Godwin, but here the analogy is apt.

Irony (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180415)

A brave new world takes place in London.

A SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.

No sex if you want to do it this way (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180427)

One of the disadvantages of Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD, which is what they used here) is that it requires implantation of a screened egg. That means all the lovely things that go with IVF [fertility] treatment -- drugs to synchronise your period with something a bit more predictable, in-vitro fertilisation, multiple embryos, and a few blood tests along the way.

If you want to make babies the usual way (i.e. by having sex), then you can't use this technique to screen for less desirable traits.

FucKer (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180807)

user. 'Now that t0rned over to yet taken over by BSDI shower Don't just continues to lose ofone single puny of Jordan Huubard

Mutations in BRCA1 are linked to breast cancer (2, Informative)

jcmurray (975686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26180825)

Just to clarify the headline and summary, and as is pointed out in the quote from Dr. Alan Thornhill in the original article:

Mutations in BRCA1 are linked to breast cancer , not just having the BRCA1 gene itself. BRCA1 [nih.gov] is a critical tumor suppressor gene that helps maintain genomic integrity. Again, specific mutations in BRCA1 have been linked to breast cancer, not just "carrying the BRCA1 gene". Most of us carry the BRCA1 gene and it is expressed in a wide variety of tissues throughout our bodies. The BBC article uses the language such as "not carrying the BRCA1 gene", this is not entirely appropriate or even the issue at hand. The child will carry the BRCA1 gene, but without the specific mutations linked to breast cancer. (To be even more specific, the child will carry two alleles of the BRCA1 gene, one from each parent, both of which lack the mutations linked to breast cancer.)

weird headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180837)

Did anybody else read the headline and not get that it implied some sort of scientific intervention, after all i'm pretty sure that many children are naturally born without the gene for breast cancer?

At the delivery date... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26180979)

On the date of delivery...

Researcher: Now, to finally see if we can genetically remove breast cancer from the world! Here comes the child now! And... and... and...
Doctor: Congratulations! It's a boy!
Dad: Aww... look, dear, he's beauti...
(slight pause)
Researcher: Ah, damnit.

15 years from now.. (1)

goga_russian (544604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26181013)

baby that was born without the gene for breast cancer got breast cancer ~!...more after the /cialis/ commercial break.
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