Video Script

For ‘Breast cancer gene free baby’

BBC News 9th Jan 2009: ‘Breast cancer gene-free baby’ (1min55)



“This is the technology that made this breakthrough possible, the moment a single cell is removed from an embryo to be tested for a gene that causes 5% of all breast cancer cases.

Paul Serhal is the man who carried out the highly sensitive screening process. The baby’s parents went to him because 3 generations of their family had had breast cancer. He helped them have a little girl who’s free of the gene that caused it.”

Paul Serhal:

“The family is absolutely elated that a) the child will not have this genetic form of breast cancer and obviously the lasting legacy that all the future generations from this particular child will be free from this genetic abnormality.”


“Doctors did the screening using IVF treatment. 11 embryos were created; a single cell was removed from each one for testing. 6 were found to be carrying the defective gene. 2 of the ones that were clear of it were planted back in the mother resulting in a healthy baby girl.

This type of screening is already being done to free babies of conditions like cystic fibrosis and Huntingdon’s disease but this case is different because it wasn't inevitable that the baby would go on to develop breast cancer even if she had been born with particular gene.

Kelly Charles is a carrier; she knows she has an 80% chance of developing breast cancer and could pass that on if she has children.”


“To know that a child of mine would be able to grow up without having the 50-85% chance of developing breast cancer would just be fantastic.”


“This is controversial technology. Critics see it as another step down the road to designer babies. It doesn’t eliminate only reduces the little girls risk of getting breast cancer. Even so for one family it’s a technology that has made a big difference.”

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