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First French 'designer baby' born

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Paris (UPI) Feb 9, 2011
French doctors have announced the birth of a baby selected by genetic sampling who may offer a cure for a sibling affected by an incurable hereditary disease.

The baby boy, named Umat-Talha, Turkish for "our hope," was born in Paris Jan. 26, Radio France Internationale reported Tuesday.

In an in vitro fertilization, the child's embryo was chosen after determination that he did not carry the gene for beta thalassemia, a genetic disorder affecting the baby's older brother that destroys red blood cells and leads to anemia.

"The process consists in sampling an embryonic cell in vitro and performing a genetic diagnostic," Dr. Rene Frydman said, to determine whether "the embryo is affected, unscathed or a carrier of the disease."

Through stem cell transplants, the baby's cells can be used to treat his older brother, Frydman said.

The birth of France's first "designer baby" has been controversial, particularly among religious groups.

Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, said he was concerned over "using someone exclusively for the service of someone else" and said the baby was "a tool to try and cure another child."

Christine Boutin, president of the Christian Democratic party, was critical of the procedure.

"The designer baby will always ask himself whether he exists for himself or for another," she said.

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