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Genetic testing in clinical pediatric practice

  • Yoo, Han Wook (Department of Pediatrics, Medical Genetics Clinic & Laboratory Asan Medical Center Children's Hospital, University of Ulsan College of Medicine)
  • Received : 2010.02.18
  • Accepted : 2010.02.22
  • Published : 2010.03.15

Abstract

Completion of the human genome project has allowed a deeper understanding of molecular pathophysiology and has provided invaluable genomic information for the diagnosis of genetic disorders. Advent of new technologies has lead to an explosion in genetic testing. However, this overwhelming stream of genetic information often misleads physicians and patients into a misguided faith in the power of genetic testing. Moreover, genetic testing raises a number of ethical, legal, and social issues. Diagnostic genetic tests can be divided into three primary but overlapping categories: cytogenetic studies (including routine karyotyping, high-resolution karyotyping, and fluorescent in situ hybridization studies), biochemical tests, and DNA-based diagnostic tests. DNA-based testing has grown rapidly over the past decade and includes preandpostnatal testing for the diagnosis of genetic diseases, testing for carriers of genetic diseases, genetic testing for susceptibility to common non-genetic diseases, and screening for common genetic diseases in a particular population. Theoretically, once a gene's structure, function, and association with a disease are well established, the clinical application of genetic testing should be feasible. However, for routine applications in a clinical setting, such tests must satisfy a number of criteria. These criteria include an acceptable degree of clinical and analytical validity, support of a quality assurance program, possibility of modifying the course of the diagnosed disease with treatment, inclusion of pre-and postnatal genetic counseling, and determination of whether the proposed test satisfies cost-benefit criteria and should replace or complement traditional tests. In the near future, the application of genetic testing to common diseases is expected to expand and will likely be extended to include individual pharmacogenetic assessments.

Acknowledgement

Supported by : Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs

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