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Sperm bank with genetic screening opens in Shanghai

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-06-07 20:07

A human sperm bank, which claims to be the nation’s first to use genetic screening on donors for potential hereditary risks and to conduct psychological and mental evaluations of donors, started trial operation in Shanghai on Wednesday.

Located at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, the sperm bank, the second in the municipality, said it will resort to precise genetic mutation screening in donor sperm to identify mutated genes that might result in severe consequences, such as miscarriage and birth defects.

Most sperm banks in the country make genetic analysis based on chromosome screening.

Zhang Feng, head of the newly opened Human Sperm Bank at Fudan University, explained that genes are the main genetic materials in humans, and chromosomes are the carriers of genes.

“We can imagine the chromosomes as corncobs and genes as the corn grains. Maybe the shape and appearance of a corncob generally looks normal, but if you take a closer look, you will find some grains are missing, damaged or deformed. Such problematic ‘grains’, which are pathogenic genes to us, may cause problems to the offspring,” Zhang said.

The sperm bank also conducts psychological and mental evaluations on sperm donors through professional medical scales and face-to-face screenings with psychologists, as some of these diseases may pass on to the next generation, said Wang Xiao, a psychologist with the sperm bank.

The first sperm bank in Shanghai was established at Renji Hospital in 2003.

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