2 September 2011 - Superior A.R.T, the center of Assisted Reproduction Technology and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, announced the first time of success in Thailand of implementing Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology to screen for Thalassemia status with HLA matching between siblings.
Sarayuth Assamakorn, Chief Operating Officer of Superior A.R.T. the center of Assisted Reproduction Technology and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis said in the press conference, " Superior A.R.T is one of the most modern assisted reproduction technology center in Asia from the collaboration between Thai doctors who specialize in assisted reproduction technology and Sydney IVF, the leading center for assisted reproduction and genetic testing in Australia, which is globally well-known as a world-leader for the technology of blastocyst culture and pre-implantation genetic testing. Currently, we have treated patients with problems of fertility challange and those who are fertile but at risk of transmitting genetic diseases to their babies. Our success rate comply with international standards. This time, it is another great success for our team which comprises of fertility specialist, embryologist and geneticist in assisting a couples at risk of conceiving babies affected with thalassemia to achieve a healthy baby who is also capable of giving cord blood stem cells to treat his/her sibling with thalassemia who is waiting to have bone marrow transplant. In our view, this is to expand the benefit of IVF with PGD to those who does not have fertility problem but required a genetic screening. More interesting in this case, besides unaffected with thalassemia, he/she is a full matched to the sick child to provide cord blood stem cell for the cure of Thalassemia of the sick child. This is novel to Thai medical society. At the end, we hope that Superior A. R. T. will be at the forefront for pre-implantation diagnosis technology in the world. We have developed a laboratory able to screen for many other genetic diseases with more and more interesting cases everyday. We are well trustec by local and overseas patients ”
Somjate Manipalviratn, M.D. , Clinical Director of Superior A.R.T. said “Current statistics of the prevalence of Thalassemia carriers stands at about 30-40 percent of the Thai population. The babies born affected with Thalassemia are around 10,000 new cases per year, which could be burden to family and society. These newborns conceived from fathers and mothers who are Thalassemic carriers. For this case, the couple have a child suffering from beta Thalassemia who requires monthly blood transfusion and iron chelating medication. This supporting treatment will be life-long unless the child can get bone marrow transplantation from the donor with matched donor. However, it is very difficult to find stem cells that is matched with the child for the use of treatment. Currently, with advance technology and a team of experts at Superior A. R. T. , we can do genetic diagnosis by
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) technique using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to screen out embryos affected with thalassemia as well as to match HLA of the embryo with the sick child. Once we get an embryo which is unaffected with thalassemia and HLA matched with the sick child, we transfer that embryo back to the uterus to implant and result in normal pregnancy. With this technology, we can assure parents that the next child will not be affected with thalassemia and can provide the cord blood stem cells to treat the currently sick child who requires monthly blood transfusion. At birth, we will collect cord blood stem cells from umbilical cord to transplant to the sick child to cure her thalassemia. This will be the next chapter of IVF to be used as a way to treat sick child in addition to helping parents to avoid conceiving babies affected with thalassemia. We are proud to announce this novel achievement to Thai medical society.
Pagawadee Ketcharoon, embryologist of Superior A.R.T. a key member to the success of this case said “ As an embryologist, we have to culture embryo with high quality for the purpose of genetic testing as only good quality embryos (blastocyst) can be biopsied for genetic testing.” Pannatee Sanpong, the geneticist of Superior A.R.T. added “ after we receive the cell sample from the embryologist we have to analyze the thalassemia status and HLA type of the embryos to give the information to the doctor, embryologist and patient upon which embryo is the right embryo to transfer. Actually, the geneticist will have to work on the preparation of test kit for each particular couples before the doctor can start the ICSI process with the patient.”
The key to prevent thalassemia is to screen the population of the thalassemic status of themselves and identify couples at risk of conceiving babies affected with thalassemia. Once the couples at risk are identified, they should be offered an option for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to avoid conceiving babies affected with thalassemia as “prevention is better (and easier) than cure”.