links for 2010-02-09

  • When the Dor Yeshorim organisation was set up in New York and Israel in 1983, Tay-Sachs disease was rife in the Jewish community. The mutated gene that causes the disorder, is more common among Ashkenazi Jews than most other ethnic groups. Jewish marriage customs made it likely that two carriers would start a family together, with a 1 in 4 risk that every child would be affected.
    Of ten babies born with the condition in usa in 2003, none was Jewish, and only one child with Tay-Sachs was born in Israel that year. The reason was Dor Yeshorim’s genetic screening initiative. Jewish people are now tested for Tay-Sachs status, and the community’s matchmakers do not pair carriers together. The new genetic test by Counsyl is now attempting to do for more than a hundred other genetic conditions what Dor Yeshorim did for Tay-Sachs. By informing prospective parents about the recessive mutations they carry, it should substantially reduce their risk of having children with an inherited disease.
  • British couples are to be offered a groundbreaking genetic test that would virtually eliminate their chances of having a baby with one of more than 100 inherited diseases.The simple saliva test, which identifies whether prospective parents carry genetic mutations that could cause life-threatening disorders such as cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy or sickle-cell anaemia in their children, is to be launched within weeks in Britain, The Times has learnt. If the procedure, which will cost about £400 per person or £700 for a couple, is widely adopted, it could dramatically reduce the incidence of 109 serious inherited conditions that collectively affect one in every 280 births.

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