A new service that creates digital embryos by virtually mixing two people’s DNA will soon be giving parents-to-be a sneak peek at their unborn baby, before he/she is even conceived. Offered by GenePeeks and called Matchright technology, the service will hopefully be able to screen out sperm donors whose genes, when combined with those of the intended mother, may increase health risks due to a genetic disease. However, the technology’s patent goes beyond health aspects and also may be able to tell parents-to-be about other future baby traits, such as eye and skin pigmentation and height and waist size, which of course will likely set off people who are against using technology to choose superficial baby characteristics. Lee Silver at Princeton University, who co-founded GenePeeks, tells New Scientist, “It covers any disease or any trait that has a genetic influence, even those where the genetic basis has yet to be discovered.” The service is surprisingly easy (you can order a Matchright kit online) and relatively inexpensive, at around $1,995 per screening, which is a very small cost if you can rule out a deadly genetic disease. Plus, they’re even developing a financial assistance program. Matchright is due to appear in at least two U.S. fertility clinics very soon, but GenePeeks hopes, at some point, to expand worldwide.

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