Imagine being able to have a sneak peek into your baby’s genetics… Before he or she was even conceived? That is what one company is promising, but is it even possible?
The company is called Gene Peeks (get it?) and caters to women who are interested in using a sperm bank to have a child. The company says that it’s goal is to help women avoid potential sperm donors who could be a carrier of genes that could lead to genetic disorders on down the road. So, how does it work?
The company sequences the genetic code for potential sperm donors and woman looking to get pregnant. The company then uses algorithms to examine how the woman’s genetic DNA will interact with her potential sperm donors.
This way, the company says that it can look for genetic markers that indicate an increased risk of genetic complications. Gene Peeks analyzes sperm donors for a minimum of 500 genetic conditions and more than 8,000,000 genetic mutations. When the testing is complete, the user gets a catalog of donors.
Two fertility clinics began using the Gene Peeks technology earlier this year, and more are sure to follow. But, Dr. Jeffrey Khan, professor of Bioethics and Public Policy at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, cautions prospective customers of this service and warns them that everything in this service is based strictly on probabilities.
“They run the algorithm and get a sense of a 100 virtual children that the combo might produce,” said Khan, who has not worked with technology. “It’s not like going to the showroom and seeing on the display floor [the thing] you’re purchasing and…knowing when you get home that it’s going to show up. The probability will be attached to various trait, it’s really hard to make sense of that,” said Khan. “What’s the difference between a 10 or 13 percent chance of this?”
Clearly, it is not black and white when it comes to using new and innovative technologies such as this. There are a lot of grey areas there. So, how much will this genetic testing cost you?
The full package from Gene Peeks, which includes “Receive a personalized, risk-screened catalogue of donors based on your unique genetic signature. Includes DNA Collection Kit, all-access subscription to extended donor profile information, and consultation with our highly trained genetic counseling team at any step in the process”, will run you right at $2000.
Remember, this cost is not taking into consideration any other costs of testing, fertility treatments, medications, lab work, etc. It is important to really do your research before you decide if genetic testing like this is right for you.