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Response to PGD Article in NY Times – Feb. 5, 2014

Response to PGD Article in NY Times – Feb. 5, 2014


By Gary D. Smith, PhD and Timothy R.B. Johnson, MD


Preimplantation genetic diagnosis can provide families haunted by severe genetic disease with much-needed hope — at many levels.


First and foremost, it can be used to birth a child free of the disease gene. Second, couples can now donate disease tested- and affected-embryos — which would otherwise be discarded — so that disease-specific embryonic stem cells can be produced for research that aims to better understand and find treatments for the disease itself.


By donating, rather than discarding, the embryos that contain the disease gene, families that opt for PGD can create hope for all families that have watched loved ones suffer and die from that disease.


We and other academic/private research groups have already derived embryonic stem cell lines from donated embryos – and made them available to researchers worldwide who study these diseases.


Our group alone has derived lines containing the genetic mutations for nine diseases, and seven have already been placed on the national registry that makes them eligible for use in research funded by federal dollars. Of the 261 lines contributed to the national registry by groups from around the world, more than 80 have a disease-specific mutation that make them incredibly useful for researchers to study as they search for causes, diagnostic tools and new treatments.


We and other stem cell research groups are accepting donations of disease-affected embryos, and we encourage families who are already considering PGD to also consider donating those embryos they would otherwise discard.


More information is available at www.stemcellresearch.umich.edu/donation.


An update on University of Michigan progress is here: http://uofmhealthblogs.org/general/stem-cells-five-years-ago-impossible/9610/


Making a Difference by Donating Instead of Discarding 


Please recall that we, and others, are accepting donation of PGD/PGS-tested and affected embryos for hESC production.  We  currently have significant interest in hESC derivation for Muscular Dystrophies.


An information page is attached that healthcare providers can distribute to patients considering PGD.



Gary D. Smith, Ph.D., HCLD


Departments of OB/GYN, Physiology, and Urology

Director:  MStem Cell Laboratories

University of Michigan