June 7th, 2012
05:24 PM ET

Baby's DNA constructed before birth

Mom gave a blood sample. Dad spit. The entire genome of their fetus was born.

Researchers at the University of Washington have, for the first time, done a near-total genome sequence of a fetus in this way.  Scientists published the results of this study in the journal Science Translational Medicine, suggesting that thousands of genetic diseases could be detected in children while they are still in the fetal stage.

Everyone has two copies of the human genome: One inherited from their biological mother and one from the biological father. With technology that's being used for genetic sequencing these days, it's not possible to say which variants on the chromosome you inherited from which parent.

Scientists also sequenced the cell-free component of the mother's blood - called the plasma - where about 10% of the DNA circulating is from the child, and the other 90% is from the mother. That introduces some difficulty, since it's hard to tell exactly what comes from the child.

Currently at least some component of diagnosis for genetic disorders in certain circumstances is done using technologies such as amniocentesis, which involves taking a sample of the fluid in the sac that surrounds the fetus in the womb - the mother has to have a needle inserted into her uterus, which is a lot more complicated than a simple blood test and carries some health risks.

"This might reduce the need to do invasive testing for fetuses," said Jay Shendure, associate professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington.

The focus of the study was the genome of a fetus whose mother's blood sample was taken at 18 weeks. The analysis of her blood, the father's saliva and the plasma contributed to a nearly full picture of the fetus's genome.  This model showed that the fetus had 39 mutations that it had not inherited from either parent.

To confirm, researchers looked at the baby's umbilical cord blood after it was born. In comparing the constructed DNA (from mom & dad's samples) and this cord sample,  researchers found five additional mutations that hadn't come from the mother or the father.  On the whole, the baby's artificially constructed genome using material from the parents was more than 98% accurate.

Researchers repeated the procedure on a different couple. This time the mother was only eight weeks pregnant when she donated her sample, and the father submitted a blood sample, which was processed in the same way that the other father's saliva was. This resulted in a fetal genome sequence that was 92% accurate.

"We could have brought it higher just by sequencing her plasma more deeply," said Jacob Kitzman, lead study author and graduate research fellow at the University of Washington.

There are also parts of the genome that technology available today just cannot measure very well, Kitzman says, so that's partly why there's not a 100% accuracy here.

Is gender selection of a fetus ethical?

Eight weeks are, however, well before mothers are able to get amniocentesis, which is often used at around 16 weeks.

It took more than a month to get the results from the sequencing, which is a lot longer than would be ideal in a clinical situation, Kitzman noted. In order to become more widespread, the technique would have to be easier to administer, quicker and less expensive.

So how much does this cost? Right now, in the ballpark of $50,000, Shendure says - and while that seems like a lot, keep in mind that this whole process involved sequencing the genomes of the mother and the father, separately analyzing the plasma and then double-checking the result with a sequence from the child's umbilical cord.

The price tag for sequencing has dropped by 10,000 fold in the last five years, Shendure says, so he expects this fetal genome technique will also become less expensive over time.

In the long-term, the technique may even help garner new insights about genetic diseases, but more immediately it would be restricted to identifying the genetic disorders that we already understand, he said.

"Whether this is the sort of thing we would do on a widespread basis for all pregnancies, that’s an open question and a complex one," he said.

The complexity comes, of course, from the ethical issues that arise concerning parents who would selectively abort fetuses that are predestined for certain conditions.

The technology worries medical ethicist Harriet Washington, who fears parents could use genome sequencing to predict and selectively abort children that don't meet certain standards - not just for diseases, but for things like hair and eye color.

“If we don’t look at the dangers, if we adopt this Pollyanna attitude and only look at the benefits, then it’s really easy to end up in a situation where we are blindsided,” Washington said.

Perhaps one day, even intelligence scores or skills could be forecasted, creating a situation akin the movie "Gattaca" where babies are basically custom-created to suit the needs of parents who can afford the technology.

What do you think about all this? Share your thoughts in the comments.

soundoff (1,645 Responses)
  1. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    I was very pleased to find this site. I need to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new information on your site.


    June 25, 2021 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Parts And Repair Near Me

    You are so cool! I do not think I've read something like that before. So great to find somebody with original thoughts on this issue. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with some originality!


    June 26, 2021 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. vtv6hd

    Liên Kết Coi Thẳng đá Bóng Futsal Việt Nam Vs Lebanon Vòng Chủng Loại World Cupua49ru7300kxxv Xem bóng đá trực tuyến Trực tiếp Odd BK vs Sarpsborg, 20h ngày 24/5, giải VĐQG Na Uy. Xem lịch phạt sóng trực tiếp đá bóng EURO thời điểm hôm nay được Webthethao cập nhật chính xác nhất.


    June 26, 2021 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Collision Repair Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 02:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Repair Shop Near My Location


    June 26, 2021 at 03:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Repair Garden Grove


    June 26, 2021 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Clotilde Byun

    That is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise infoÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 26, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Suspension Repair Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Repair Shop Near My Location


    June 26, 2021 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Repair Shop Near My Location


    June 26, 2021 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Repair Garden Grove

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!


    June 26, 2021 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Repair Shop


    June 26, 2021 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Podcast Leadership Development


    June 26, 2021 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. freakonomics podcast


    June 26, 2021 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Nursing Leadership


    June 26, 2021 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. the survival podcast


    June 26, 2021 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. pharmaceptica.com

    erectile clinics cleveland https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 26, 2021 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. biggerpockets podcast

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Many thanks! Where are your contact details though?


    June 26, 2021 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. microphone for podcast


    June 26, 2021 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Army Leadership

    I love it when individuals get together and share views. Great website, stick with it!


    June 26, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 3.5 Leadership

    Hi there! This post couldnít be written any better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I will send this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. Thank you for sharing!


    June 26, 2021 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Dr Henry Cloud Leadership U Podcast


    June 26, 2021 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Leadership Summit


    June 27, 2021 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Koya Leadership Partners


    June 27, 2021 at 06:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Leadership Strengths

    Hello there! This article couldnít be written much better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he'll have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


    June 27, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. video podcast

    You've made some decent points there. I checked on the web for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.


    June 27, 2021 at 07:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Servant Leadership Quotes


    June 27, 2021 at 07:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. cakhia.tv bóng đá

    Thẳng Bóng Đá Việt Nam Vs Lebanon. Xem Truc Tiep Bong Da. Futsal Việt NamibongdaXem bóng đá trực tuyến Trực tiếp Odd BK vs Sarpsborg, 20h ngày 24/5, giải VĐQG Na Uy. Xem lịch vạc sóng thẳng đá bóng EURO hôm nay được Webthethao cập nhật chính xác nhất.


    June 27, 2021 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Different Leadership Styles

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this site needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the info!


    June 27, 2021 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. nick viall podcast

    Itís difficult to find experienced people on this subject, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 27, 2021 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. free podcast music


    June 27, 2021 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. paranormal podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Ww1 Leadership

    I needed to thank you for this good read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff you postÖ


    June 27, 2021 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. jay weber show podcast

    https://www.iaai.com/VehicleInspection/InspectionProvidersUrl?name=AA Transit Pros Inspection Service&url=http://backbonehunters.com

    June 27, 2021 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Groups Leadership


    June 27, 2021 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. American Leadership Academy

    Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this web site.


    June 27, 2021 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Van Body Shop


    June 27, 2021 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Gmc Luxury Van Repair

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thanks a lot!


    June 27, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Ram Luxury Van Repair


    June 27, 2021 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair Santa Ana


    June 27, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    June 27, 2021 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Sprinter Van Service

    Good web site you've got here.. Itís difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    June 27, 2021 at 19:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Handicap Van Ramp Repair


    June 27, 2021 at 20:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. kucasino

    Tin Tức, Sự Kiện Liên Quan Tiền Đến Trực Tiếp đá Bóng Nữ vip truykich.weeblyĐội tuyển futsal nước ta đã có một trận đấu đồng ý được trước đối thủ cạnh tranh đầy mức độ mạnh Lebanon. Kết quả Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu vs Bình Phước hôm nay 18h00 ngày 5/5, Hạng nhất nước Việt Nam.


    June 27, 2021 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Sprinter Van Repair

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Thanks for supplying this info.


    June 27, 2021 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Rv Mechanic Shop


    June 27, 2021 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Rv Upholstery Shop

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest websites on the net. I am going to recommend this site!


    June 27, 2021 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    Hello, There's no doubt that your website could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, great site!


    June 27, 2021 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Ford Cargo Van Repair Shop Near Me

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thanks, However I am experiencing troubles with your RSS. I donít know why I can't join it. Is there anyone else having the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 27, 2021 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Sprinter Van Repair Shop

    Great web site you have got here.. Itís hard to find high-quality writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    June 28, 2021 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Leave a Reply to how to repair rv fiberglass exterior damage


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.