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Call to permit embryo genetic testing in Germany

Report of a story in the news   |   By Dr Philippa Brice   |   Published 26 January 2011

Sources: Press release, Nature news

The Leopoldina, Germany's national academy of sciences, has released a new statement supporting the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to prevent the birth of children affected by serious genetic diseases.

Hitherto, it has been presumed that PGD is not permissible under embryo protection laws, but in 2010 the federal supreme court ruled that this was not the case. A Leopoldina working group has agreed with this finding, concluding that as healthy embryos are not harmed by the procedure then it is exempt, and should be allowed for serious and incurable hereditary diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Fragile-X Syndrome (for which termination of affected pregnancies is also legal). They call for the establishment of a suitable regulator to ensure that PGD is used appropriately.

Comment:

This statement follows on from a report on the use of predictive genetic testing released by the Leopoldina last year (see previous news) and serves to further emphasise Germany’s moves to distinguish clearly between the use of genetic testing for serious medical conditions, and for more trivial purposes. The German parliament is likely to vote on the regulation of preimplantation genetic diagnosis later this year. 

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