Cryos’ Genetic Panel – how we screen our donors for genetic diseases
At Cryos International Sperm Bank, we want to make sure that the children we help into the world are as healthy as possible. Our screening process of sperm donors encompasses 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 a genetic disease can be inherited 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 for our body to function correctly. As known, all genes are inherited from biological parents. All humans have two copies of the same gene: one copy of the gene from the mother, and a copy from the father. The body does not need both genes to make a recipe work – it only needs one healthy variant. If one gene variant is unworking and disease-causing, the body will use the healthy gene variant instead. These genes are known as recessive genes.
All humans – without exception, are a carrier of an unknown number of recessive gene variants in their DNA. These can be passed on to offspring. As a carrier, you only have a single disease-causing variant of the recessive gene and therefore all carriers are healthy. Remember, that a child will need two variants of the same gene – from both the mother and father – to become sick. Genetic testing can help identify which gene variant one carries.
Some recessive genes are more common than others, and there is a risk of meeting a partner that shares the same recessive gene as you. Therefore, keeping a broad variety of donors ensures a broad genetic variation and lowers the risk of rare recessive diseases accumulating in the population.
The figure below presents the inherited pattern of a recessive disease and outlines the risks of being born with a genetic disease when both parents are carriers. For each child the parents have, there is a 25% risk that the child will become sick. On the contrary, there is a 75% chance that the child will stay healthy and unaffected. If the child is healthy, in 2/3 of the cases, the child will be a carrier as the parents.
What is Cryos’ Genetic Panel?
A Genetic Panel is a medical test that identifies the presence of specific gene variants. At Cryos, we use the test in our screening process of all egg and sperm donor candidates to identify the most frequent and severe hereditary recessive diseases in the world. This means that the donor candidates at the time being are tested for the most common genetic variants causing:
- 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
By performing a genetic test on all our donors, we reduce the risk of a donor-conceived child inheriting one of the diseases above. Genetic testing, in combination with family history evaluation on the donor, secures a low risk of genetic diseases.
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 our genetic matching by following the links. YOu can also contact our Customer Care team, which will be glad to answer all your questions.