The Times is reporting that the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) is investing £7m in a national network of centres dedicated to DNA testing research, including the use of DNA testing for the prenatal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome.
Projects include genetic sequencing for transplant matching, “identifying inherited genetic mutations that can cause breast cancer, colon cancer and kidney and eye disorders”, and “studying the genetic factors that contribute to mental illnesses, and infectious diseases such as malaria and the antibiotic-resistant bacteria Clostridium difficile.”
As far as Down’s syndrome is concerned, a “project at the Cambridge hub will evaluate methods of testing the blood of pregnant women for foetal DNA. This could potentially allow prenatal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome without amniocentesis, an invasive test that can cause miscarriage,” The Times reports.
I’ve written about DNA testing for prenatal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome before. In particular Sequenom appeared to making good progress but has subsequently admitted that the data was mishandled by employees.