A family segregating for the retinoblastoma predisposition gene has been analysed using the polymerase chain reaction to exclude their son as being an affected gene carrier. The unusual feature of this family is that the affected child, who would ordinarily have been used to establish phase in a linkage study, died as a result of developing a second tumour some years ago. The only tissue available from this child was a paraffin embedded, formalin fixed histopathological specimen from the second tumour. It was possible to isolate DNA from this tissue and amplify the DNA flanking two polymorphic restriction enzyme sites to establish alleles which cosegregated with tumour predisposition. Archival material can now be used to offer families such as this prenatal screening to provide informed genetic counselling.
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