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First UK baby free of cancer gene

world Updated: Jan 12, 2009 23:23 IST

The first woman in Britain to have a baby selected free of a gene that causes breast cancer, has given birth succesfully, doctors said.

The baby grew from an embryo screened to ensure it did not contain the faulty BRCA 1 gene.

The 27-year-old mother, requesting anonymity, decided to take the step because several of her husband's close female relatives suffered from breast cancer. Any girl born with the BRCA 1 gene has an 80 per cent risk of developing breast cancer and a 60 per cent chance of developing ovarian cancer — as well as a 50 per cent risk of passing on the anomaly to their own children.

“The little girl will not develop this genetic form of breast cancer or ovarian cancer in her adult life,” said Paul Serhal, head of the Assisted Conception Unit at University College and Hospital, London.

The technique, known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, has already been used in Britain to screen embryos resulting from in vitro fertilisation for disorders like cystic fibrosis.