Jaime King


At the intersection of two rapidly developing areas of biotechnology, a revolution is about to take place. Although this revolution involves reproduction, it will not be sexual. A medical procedure, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), combines genetic testing and assisted reproductive technology (ART) to enable parents to screen their potential children before implantation for genetic or chromosomal characteristics. The technology has been a godsend to couples with family histories of genetic disorders and chromosomal mutations causing infertility. However, expanding its use to permit prospective parents to select embryos based on a wide array of genetic characteristics presents substantial risks to individuals involved in the procedure and to society as a whole.

Although PGD use has remained extremely limited due to technological constraints, expense, and moderate success rates, recent advances in genetic testing procedures will remove many of these obstacles and significantly increase the benefits of its use. Better tests, providing better information, will expand the use of this technology from embryos known to be at risk for serious disease - preimplantation genetic diagnosis - to the testing of all or almost all in vitro embryos for multiple genetic characteristics - preimplantation genetic screening (PGS).