Researchers have found a means of detecting an egg's ability to produce a fetus in women with monogenic diseases. Polar bodies are by-products resulting from cell division occurring during the egg's maturation phase. Monogenic diseases are caused by the alteration of one gene in the DNA. Polar body analysis(PBA) can tell the doctor whether the female egg contains an intact gene or a damaged gene.

Cystic fibrosis, Tay sachs disease and Huntington's disease are three monogenic conditions. The formation of these diseases occurs thanks to the presence of one gene modification. PBA can evaluate the gene to see if it has been damaged or remains intact. If the gene has not been damaged, that egg is used for fertilization.

According to the study, four women carriers of monogenic diseases underwent PBA. Once the healthy egg was found, the egg was fertilized and implanted into the uterus. In three of the four cases, successful implantation occurred and a healthy baby was achieved. The fourth cases was unsuccessful on two attempts and the patient withdrew from the study after the second try.

PBA is used in Germany as a form of diagnostic treatment before the egg is implanted. If the gene for the monogenic disease is damaged, the parent (s) can choose to abort the pregnancy. Hereditary diseases passed on from the father cannot be detected.

Source: Deutsches Arzteblatt International 2009