Cryos’ Genetic Panel – how we screen our donors for genetic diseases
At Cryos, we want to make sure that the children we help into the world are as healthy as possible. Our screening process of donors encompass genetic testing of the most frequent and severe genetic diseases. In this blog post, we will explain what Cryos’ Genetic Panel is and why it is relevant for you.
What are genetics?
To understand the Genetic Panel, it is important to know what a gene is and how the genetic diseases can be transferred from parents to children in generations.
Our bodies consist of DNA that encodes all the functions in our body with its own unique “recipe”. The recipes are known as genes and collectively they create the manual our body use to function correctly. As known, our genes are inherited from our parents. We all have two copies of the same gene: one copy of the gene from our mother, and a copy from our father. The body does not need both genes to make a recipe work – it only needs one. If the gene from our father is disease causing, our body will use the gene from our mother instead. These genes are known as recessive genes, and we all carry different recessive genes even though we are healthy.
When a healthy person has a recessive gene in their DNA that can cause a recessive disease, the person is known as a “carrier”. One will need two variants of the same recessive gene – from both the mother and father – to develop the recessive disease.
Some recessive genes are more common than others, and there is a risk of meeting a partner that share the same recessive gene as you.
This figure presents a simplification of the inherited pattern of a recessive disease and outline the risks of being born with a genetic disease when your parents are carriers.
What is Cryos’ Genetic Panel?
A Genetic Panel is a medical test that identifies the presence of specific genes. At Cryos, we use the test in our screening process of the sperm donor candidates to identify potential pathogenic diseases that may be inherited.
By performing a genetic test on all our sperm donors, we ensure that the genetic material that our customers use, do not have the potential to cause the most common severe genetic disorders for their future children. Genetic testing, in combination with family history evaluation on the donor secure a high quality in excluding genetic disorders.
It is not possible to test for all genetic disorders, so the Genetic Panel that we use at Cryos includes the most frequent serious hereditary diseases worldwide. All donors are tested for the following diseases:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hemoglobinopathies (including Alfa thalassemia, Beta thalassemia, Sickle cell)
- Spinal muscular atrophy
- Tay Sachs
- Non-syndromic hearing loss
Egg donors are also tested for:
- Fragile X
- Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies
- Hemolytic anemia
You may wonder why we do not test for every single disease-causing gene, to make sure that our sperm and egg donors would not transfer genes to the future children, that may cause a disease to arise in the future. We do not do that, because it is simply not possible for a few reasons:
Firstly, we do not know all the genes in the human body, and you cannot test for something we do not know exists.
Secondly, as previously mentioned, we are all carriers of recessive genes that would potentially cause a disease to arise. More precisely, we all carry at least 2000 recessive genes in our DNA. Out of these, we all have at least 10 disease-causing variants. If we would test every donor for all genes that are disease-causing, we would not have any donors left. They would simply all be excluded in the screening process.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of genetics and Cryos’ Genetic Panel after reading this blog post. If you have any questions regarding genetics and donor conception you can read more about our screening of sperm donors or contact our Customer Care team.