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27 October 2008

Embryo test for 15 000 diseases

Researchers say they've developed a gene mapping test that can determine in weeks whether an embryo is affected by any one of 15 000 inherited diseases.

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British researchers say they've developed a gene mapping test that, within a matter of weeks, can determine whether an embryo is affected by any one of 15 000 inherited diseases. Current tests focus on a specific gene mutation or can take much longer to provide results.

For the new test, a single cell is taken from an 8-day-old embryo. DNA samples are then collected from the parents and their parents. In many cases, a DNA sample is taken from another member of the family, such as a child affected by an inherited disease, BBC News reported.

All the family members' DNA is analyzed for 300 000 specific DNA markers, creating a map of the family's genetics, said Prof. Alan Handyside and colleagues at London's Bridge Centre, who are currently conducting trials of the gene-mapping test.

"The effectiveness and efficiency of the procedure is quite exciting, and the fact that it's quicker means it could be helpful to couples at risk of inherited diseases -- and that in itself is significant," Dr. Mark Hamilton, chairman of the British Fertility Society, told BBC News. – (HealthDay News, October 2008)

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