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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 17:22 GMT
Genetic illness testing planned
Genetic testing
Embryos will be tested in Scotland for hereditary illnesses
Couples in Scotland are set to benefit from a new service, aimed at detecting hereditary disorders in embryos.

Until now, the expensive treatment has been available only in London. But from June, the service will be offered at the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow.

Initially, 15 couples are expected to use the service, which screens embryos for potentially life-threatening genetic conditions.

The moves follows three years of research by experts.

Health chiefs stress that the technique - which tells doctors the sex of a baby - will not be used to choose specific characteristics, creating "designer babies".

It will make best use of the skills and facilities available
Dr Robin Yates
Glasgow Royal Infirmary

The tests search for conditions including cancer, Huntingdon's Disease and Cystic Fibrosis.

NHS Greater Glasgow said that funding from the Scottish Executive to pay for the service would be available from next month.

Spokesman Dr Robin Yates said it would "make best use of the skills and facilities available".

Numbers increase

The service is highly specialised because of the small number of patients suitable for participation.

But a Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "This number will probably increase in future as the service becomes more widely known and the range of conditions it is licenced to treat increases."

She added that it would be paid for by all of Scotland's health boards.

Health Minister Andy Kerr said: "I am pleased patients will now be able to receive this treatment closer to home.

"The treatment to be provided by this service is highly specialised, intensive, expensive to provide and required by a relatively small number of people.

"This is why it is appropriate to be a designated National Service."

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