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Problems with Using Polygenic Scores to Select Embryos

  • Turley, Patrick
  • Meyer, Michelle N
  • Wang, Nancy
  • Cesarini, David
  • Hammonds, Evelynn
  • Martin, Alicia R
  • Neale, Benjamin M
  • Rehm, Heidi L
  • Wilkins-Haug, Louise
  • Benjamin, Daniel J
  • Hyman, Steven
  • Laibson, David
  • Visscher, Peter M
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2021
eScholarship - University of California
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Companies have recently begun to sell a new service to patients considering in vitro fertilization: embryo selection based on polygenic scores (ESPS). These scores represent individualized predictions of health and other outcomes derived from genomewide association studies in adults to partially predict these outcomes. This article includes a discussion of many factors that lower the predictive power of polygenic scores in the context of embryo selection and quantifies these effects for a variety of clinical and nonclinical traits. Also discussed are potential unintended consequences of ESPS (including selecting for adverse traits, altering population demographics, exacerbating inequalities in society, and devaluing certain traits). Recommendations for the responsible communication about ESPS by practitioners are provided, and a call for a society-wide conversation about this technology is made. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others.).

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