Current status of prenatal diagnosis by DNA analysis

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In 1989 we are continuing to move gene diagnosis over to the direct detection mode. We have sickle cell anemia, alpha-thalassemia, beta-thalassemia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Becker muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis moved to direct detection with hemophilia B and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency soon to be there. For indirect detection, we still have hemophilia A, and a comment on the genetics of hemophilia A is important. Remember that sickle cell anemia is caused by one mutation, while beta-thalassemia and cystic fibrosis have a finite number of alleles. Duchenne muscular dystrophy results from a different mutation for every affected individual, but most of these are deletions and can be directly detected. Hemophilia A is another X-linked disorder with almost every affected individual having a different mutation. That means that there probably are 100 ways to get beta-thalassemia and about 10,0000 ways to get hemophilia A, so we need some really good novel techniques to detect these directly, and we are working hard on such techniques. I would not be surprised if hemophilia A moved into the direct detection category in the next year or so. We need to find the Huntington disease gene, and then it will move into the direct detection column. Neurofibromatosis is still in the direct detection group but also may move very soon. Polycystic kidney disease is also still in the indirect detection column. This summarizes where prenatal and presymptomatic gene diagnosis stands in late 1989.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-216
Number of pages7
JournalBirth Defects: Original Article Series
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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