A couple turned to the company Genomic Prediction to help select which IVF embryo to implant, possibly the first time that polygenic risk scores were used in such a way, according to Bloomberg. It adds that the parents chose the embryo with the lowest odds of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The father, Rafal Smigrodzki, a neurologist with a doctorate in human genetics, tells Bloomberg that they hoped to give their child the best chance in life. "Part of that duty is to make sure to prevent disease — that's why we give vaccinations," he adds there. "And the polygenic testing is no different. It's just another way of preventing disease."
In 2018, the Asbury Park Press reported that Genomic Prediction received the go-ahead from the state of New Jersey to sell its pre-implantation genetic test, and in 2019, New Scientist reported that the test had been used in at least one pregnancy.
Such testing is controversial — the Hastings Center's Erik Parens and Paul Appelbaum and Wendy Chung, both at Columbia University argued at Stat News in 2019 that the approach is unethical. As Bloomberg additionally notes, a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine has also pointed out ethical and other issues with testing, such as the data's focus on European populations, the number of unknowns, and its likelihood of exacerbating gaps between those who can afford and benefit from testing and those who cannot.