Lovers to match genes,not hearts

The couple could use In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) to weed out babies with incurable diseases.

Written by Agencies | London | Published: July 13, 2012 1:49 pm

Couples in future can choose their partners based on the compatibility of their genes instead of just settling for someone or falling in love,say scientists.

Scientists believe that since the cost of genetic sequencing is falling so rapidly,within five to ten years it will be very common for young people to pay for a read-out of their entire genetic code and choose a compatible partner.

The desire to have healthy babies will also lead people to request and see the genetic blueprint of any prospective long-term partner,Professor Armand Leroi,a leading scientist at Imperial College London said.

Based on the information gathered from the genetic blueprint,the couple could then use In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) to weed out babies with incurable diseases,Leroi told a major science conference in Dublin.

According to Leroi,it is unlikely that people will have the ‘luxury’ of using the technology to design babies by intellect or eye colour and instead they will focus on stopping the genetic diseases,the Daily Mail reported.

Professor Leroi told the Euro-science Open Forum 2012 that in some ways eugenics,the science of improving the genetic composition of a population,is already here,with tens of thousands of unborn babies with Downs syndrome and other such illnesses being aborted every year.

“These processes are very well established in most European countries. Many of the ethical problems that people raise when they speak of neo-eugenics are nought once you offer gene selection or mate selection as a eugenic tool,” he said.

Leroi said that the cost of genetic sequencing is falling so rapidly that “it is going to become very,very accessible,very,very soon.”

“Some cultures will say,Let’s get a lot of genomes out on the table and see who has got the best one,” a Danish neurobiologist Lone Frank,who predicted some countries will embrace the idea,adding others will see it as an attempt to play God.

“Our society increasing obsession with celebrity status,physical perfection and high intelligence fuels the view that the lives of people with disabilities or genetic diseases are somehow less worth living,said Philippa Taylor,of the Christian Medical Fellowship.

“We must recognise and resist the eugenic mind set. Our priorities should be to develop treatments and supportive measures for those with genetic disease; not to search them out and destroy them before birth,” Taylor said.

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