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Ten years of presymptomatic testing for Huntington's disease: the experience of the UK Huntington's Disease Prediction Consortium
  1. Peter S Harpera,
  2. Caron Lima,
  3. David Craufurd on behalf of the UK Huntington's Disease Prediction Consortiumb
  1. aInstitute of Medical Genetics, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff CF4 4XN, UK, bDepartment of Medical Genetics, St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, UK
  1. Professor Harper, HarperPS{at}


Data on all presymptomatic genetic tests for Huntington's disease (HD) in the UK have been collected over the 10 year period since testing became available as a service. A total of 2937 completed tests have been performed up to the end of 1997, 2502 based on specific mutation testing, feasible since late 1993.

A total of 93.1% of these were at 50% prior risk, with a significant excess of females (58.3%); 41.4% of results were abnormal or high risk, including 29.4% in subjects aged 60 or over. The trend in test numbers has currently levelled out at around 500 per year.

Almost all presymptomatic tests are carried out in National Health Service genetics centres, with a defined genetic counselling protocol and with availability now in all regions of the UK. The introduction and establishment of HD presymptomatic testing shows that this form of predictive medicine for Mendelian disorders can be successfully incorporated into National Health Service structures. The comprehensive collection of simple data allows trends in demand and outcomes to be monitored and has also been the foundation for more detailed specific studies. A comparable approach to data collection in other genetic disorders will be important as presymptomatic testing becomes more generally feasible.

  • Huntington's disease
  • presymptomatic testing

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