Prenatal genetic tests are becoming increasingly easy to perform, providing more of the population with an opportunity to look into the possible futures of their children.
As this blog reported last month, University of Washington researchers caused a stir in the media when they revealed that they had created a test that could form the genetic profile of a child before birth. This prenatal test was hailed as being far safer than the widely used current testing procedures known as amniocentesis, when amniotic fluid is withdrawn from the mother and tested along with the father's saliva.
Still, many questioned whether the easier test could cause more parents to consider terminating a pregnancy if a child displayed a high likelihood of developing a genetic condition.
Now, a new test developed by Stanford University researchers may elevate these concerns even further, as their procedure would not even require the father to be tested. Researchers were essentially able to work backwards by first determining which DNA came from the mother, and then studying the two strands separately. Despite the ethics concerns, researchers lauded the benefits of expanding testing.
"Things like metabolic disorders and immune disorders you could find out ahead of time, so when the baby's born, you know exactly what to feed them or, more importantly, not to feed them so they don't get sick or what environment they need to be in to protect them from germs," Stanford researchers Stephen Quake told The San Francisco Chronicle.
Genetic tests such as these – even though they may not be widely accessible for several years – have helped usher in a new era of personalized medicine, in which patients, their physicians and diagnostic laboratories partner together with one shared goal in mind – using a patient's genetic history to inform treatment strategies and guarantee improved long-term health.
This article is brought to you by Slone Partners, a leading laboratory recruitment firm in the emerging sciences of molecular, clinical, and in-vitro diagnostics, anatomic pathology and personalized medicine.
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