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DIY DNA tests tell couples about their unborn baby's genetic disease risk

Posted On: March 28, 2011

Melbourne, Mar 27 (ANI): A new do-it-yourself DNA kit, set to be launched by an Australian company, will allow couples to find out if they could pass on a genetic disease to a baby.

In January, Sydney-based company Lumigenix, with laboratories in Melbourne and Los Angeles, began offering direct-to-consumer genetic testing of the risk of developing cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other diseases.

It will release a pre-conception testing kit in six months, allowing expecting and prospective parents to find out if they possess genes that make them carriers of about 250 recessive genetic diseases, including cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, Tay-Sachs disease and Bloom syndrome.

Clients send a sample of their saliva to the company, which tests the DNA in their laboratory and posts the results online.

Louise Shepherd, the director of marketing and stakeholder engagement, said the tests would give prospective parents options in family planning.

For instance, if parents found out they were carriers of cystic fibrosis, they could decide to not conceive naturally and instead go to an IVF clinic to have the gene removed from an embryo before implantation in the woman's cervix.

However, genetic ethicists warn the tests might create anxiety and lead to misinformed choices about a pregnancy or family planning.

"It would be very worrying if the results were not accurate or you misinterpreted the results," the Courier Mail quoted the chairman of the National Health and Medical Research Council's human genetic advisory committee, Ron Trent, as saying. (ANI)

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