The four Scottish university medical genetics centres formed a consortium in 1985 to provide a DNA based service in prenatal diagnosis, carrier detection, and predictive testing for a range of Mendelian disorders. Each centre took sole responsibility for laboratory analyses of an assigned set of disorders, while families continued to be investigated and patients counselled within their own areas. DNA was extracted from relevant tissues in the centre most convenient to the family member and then dispatched to the appropriate laboratory for analysis. Results were interpreted and risks assessed by discussion between laboratory staff and the clinical geneticist in charge of the case. In the first three years of the consortium 92 prenatal diagnoses or exclusion tests were carried out, the majority being for cystic fibrosis (35), Duchenne muscular dystrophy (21), and Huntington's disease (11). Carrier testing was carried out in 271 X linked recessive disorders, the most common indications being Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies (198) and haemophilias A and B (48). Predictive testing was attempted in 41 consultants at risk for Huntington's disease, 37 at risk for myotonic dystrophy, and 32 at risk for developing adult polycystic kidney disease. The total of all carrier tests, including those for autosomal recessives, was 543. A consortium or supraregional approach to molecular genetics services has a number of advantages. Constituent laboratories need hold only those probes and enzymes relevant to their assigned disorders and can gain maximum experience with these systems. Scattered families may often be linked into single kinships, thus allowing rapid confirmation of diagnosis when an urgent request is made for a prenatal diagnosis.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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