'Cancer-free' baby born in London, but how "cancer-free"?
But here's the reality check: no disease has been cured here. Instead, if the test revealed that the baby girl carried the gene, she would have been destroyeed (and the parents would have presumably tried to conceive again, then re-tested, and on it goes).
The first child in Britain known to have been screened as an embryo to ensure she did not carry a cancer gene was born Friday, a spokesman for University College London told CNN.
Her embryo was screened in a lab days after conception to check for the BRCA-1 gene, linked to breast and ovarian cancer.
People with the gene are known to have a 50-80 percent chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer in their lifetimes.
British newspapers have dubbed the girl the "cancer-free" baby.
"The parents will have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter. The lasting legacy is the eradication of the transmission of this form of cancer that has blighted these families for generations." (CNN)
Thus, to say "the parents ... have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter" is misleading. What the parents were actually spared was "the chance that a daughter with the potential to develop a disease would be allowed to survive until birth."
Two added wrinkles: the testing process can only take place if the baby is conceived in vitro ... and this is the first time a baby has been screened for a likely disease-causing gene as opposed to a guaranteed one.
One sobering line:
"When [the disease] hits your family over and over again, many couples are saying: 'Enough of this. Let's prune this out of our family tree forever.'""Prune this out of our family tree forever?"!
Prune disease out all you want, but for heaven's sake, we're talking about pruning people out here!