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New Saliva Test Screens, Prevents Genetic Diseases like That in the Harrison Ford Movie ‘Extraordinary Measures’

New Saliva Test Screens, Prevents Genetic Diseases like That in the Harrison Ford Movie ‘Extraordinary Measures’

–Texas Fertility Center Helps Bring Affordable Genetic Screening to Texas —

 Austin, Texas – January 27, 2010 – Texas Fertility Center (TFC) recently announced a partnership with Counsyl, a Redwood City, CA -based genetic testing company that was the brainchild of Stanford, Yale, and MIT alumni. Beginning immediately, TFC will offer testing to potential parents and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) donors for 130 genes linked to inheritable diseases, using just a tube of saliva.

The new Harrison Ford movie “Extraordinary Measures” centers on the real-life story of a Connecticut family’s efforts to find a cure for Pompeii Disease, a rare genetic condition affecting two of the family‘s three children. The condition wasn‘t detected until after the Crowley children were born, but diseases like Pompeii’s can now be prevented through the aid of a simple saliva test.

“The Counsyl test replaces a battery of more expensive blood tests and provides a couple and their physician with much more information for a fraction of the cost,” says Dr. Kaylen Silverberg, TFC medical director. “Tragically, the Crowley’s were too late to benefit from this simple test, which represents a quantum leap forward in pre-conceptual planning for couples — especially those concerned about having a child with a genetic disease — as it is safe, affordable, and easy to use.”

This new test utilizes advanced single nucleotide polymorphism technology (SNP, pronounced “snip”), which has 99.9 percent accuracy.  The prepackaged saliva collection kit offers concerned couples more extensive screening as well as a considerable decrease in out of pocket expense.. The impact on overall healthcare costs is substantial, as the cost of treating a child with a detectable genetic disease can be millions of dollars over the child’s lifetime.

Counsyl’s advanced technology will benefit any person who hopes to start a family, not just infertility patients and those who choose to assist infertile couples conceive by donating their gametes.

“This test allows us to eliminate the pain and inconvenience inherent in current testing, while simultaneously expanding the range of detectable diseases and reducing the cost.” added Dr. Silverberg.

TexasFertilityCenter, one of the nation’s most successful infertility programs, has a highly sought after donor egg program for patients undergoing in-vitro fertilization. As part of its program, TFC follows FDA and fertility society requirements to screen all donors for a number of inheritable genetic traits, such as Fragile X, cystic fibrosis, and general chromosome karyotyping.

For couples requiring donor eggs, the cost of screening a blood sample for only a few diseases routinely exceeds $1200.  This cost is usually not covered by insurance. The new analysis developed by Counsyl can screen for the same conditions, as well as over 100 other diseases, for less than 1/3 of the cost and without the need for a blood draw.

Although TFC plans to use the Counsyl test to assist couples in choosing genetically healthy donors, Counsyl technology is just as helpful to patients attempting pregnancy without assisted reproductive technology. According to the CDC, inherited genetic disease accounts for 10 percent of childhood deaths each year, with 80 percent of these children being the first known person in their family to have the illness. Couples with a history of family disease, as well as those with no previous history, can now painlessly and confidently protect their future children from catastrophic illnesses by using this test prior to conception.

Texas Fertility Center now has the capability to provide assistance to thousands of couples who are carriers of inheritable diseases and do not wish to pass the condition to their children.

“This new testing promises to provide couples with known illnesses, as well as millions of others, options to help conceive healthy babies free from the worry of passing on debilitating and deadly diseases,” says Dr. Silverberg.

 

About the Texas Fertility Center

 Texas Fertility Center (TFC), one of the nation’s leading infertility practices, provides advanced reproductive endocrinology and infertility services to patients throughout Texas and the Southwestern United States. With over 60 years of combined medical experience, TFC has been recognized nationally for outstanding pregnancy rates, cutting-edge laboratory procedures, and innovative research programs. For more information, please visit www.txfertility.com.

 

About Counsyl Corporation

 

The Universal Genetic Test was developed by Counsyl, a Stanford startup founded by social entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Counsyl’s mission is to end the needless suffering of preventable genetic disease. To ensure that every ounce of prevention enables a pound of cure, each test taken helps Counsyl fund treatments for children living with genetic disease. More than $50,000 has already been donated to nonprofits over the course of 2009. For the next month, donations will go to the John F. and Aileen A. Crowley Foundation in honor of John Crowley, the Harvard Business School graduate whose life is the basis for ‘Extraordinary Measures’.

About SNP Technology

SNP technology, single nucleotide polymorphisms (pronounced snip), involves tracking small, frequently repeated DNA sequence variations that occur within a person’s genetic material. Variations in DNA sequence can have a major impact on how humans respond to disease; environmental factors such as bacteria, viruses, toxins, and chemicals; and drugs and other therapies. Because SNPs do not change much from generation to generation, ethnic segments of the population share similar SNP patterns in their DNA which predispose them to certain genetic illnesses.  Scientists believe eventually SNPs may one day help them identify the multiple genes associated with complex ailments such as cancer, diabetes, vascular disease, and some forms of mental illness.

 

 

 

Human Genome Project   http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/faq/snps.shtml#snps

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month http://cdc.gov/Features/SickleCellAwareness/

 

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

http://www.cff.org/AboutCF/

Tay-Sachs Information

http://www.tay-sachs.org/taysachs.php

 

NOTE TO EDITORS:

For additional information, please visit Counsyl’s website at www.counsyl.com. A list of selected clinics is available at counsyl.com/map. ‘Extraordinary Measures’ is a trademark of CBS Films. Other company, product, and foundation names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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