Singapore to study genetic screening of IVF embryos

Singapore to study genetic screening of IVF embryos

The Ministry of Health says it is reviewing the clinical effectiveness and ethical implications of the procedure, which is currently banned in Singapore.

SINGAPORE: A three-year pilot programme will be launched to study genetic screening for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) embryos before implantation, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said in Parliament on Thursday (Nov 10).

The Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening (PGS) programme, which will start in early 2017 at the National University Hospital, helps detect chromosomal disorders in embryos. The procedure is currently banned in Singapore.

Responding to questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) Louis Ng and Cheng Li Hui, Ms Khor said: “MOH (Ministry of Health) had previously received requests to allow PGS to identify chromosomal abnormalities in embryos created through IVF, with the aim of improving the chances of conceiving. We had not granted approval so far as the published evidence had been unclear.

“In recent years however, newer technologies for PGS have emerged and some jurisdictions have now allowed PGS,” she said. “MOH is therefore reviewing the clinical effectiveness of PGS.”

The eligibility criteria for participation in the NUH pilot programme, along with other details such as funding, are being worked out and will be made available closer to its date of commencement, said Ms Khor.

“MOH will also look into the ethical concerns and regulation of PGS. For example, we will need to ensure that embryos are not eliminated solely based on parental preferences on characteristics such as gender.”

The ministry will consult stakeholders and members of the public to gather views, she added.

Source: CNA/jo