Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Social Marketing DNA Tests

“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!”
- from Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This blog submission was contributed by Robb Hughes, our finance director with a curious technology mind.
Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons aren’t here yet, but our children could soon be more genetically perfect like the Alphas of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, if technology for prospective parents from Counsyl catches on.

According to an article in Technology Review, Counsyl, a Redwood City, California, start-up, brilliantly timed its unveiling with the release of the movie Extraordinary Measures. The drama is inspired by a true story of a man who risked his future to pursue a cure for Pompe disease, a disorder often fatal to children and one of the genetic defects that Counsyl’s test can detect.

Millions of children die each year from preventable genetic disease; Counsyl is on a mission to prevent it. Sometimes free with insurance or for $349, prospective parents can order a DIY at-home genetic test kit that screens for more than 100 rare genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, SMA, sickle cell, and Tay-Sachs. These diseases while not curable, can be prevented.

The test is non-invasive, quick and simple.  Both parents spit into a tube (see photo), seal it, and send it via regular mail to Counsyl. Results are available online in 2-3 weeks. If the pregnancy is deemed high risk for a rare disease, Counsyl can refer patients to a qualified physician or genetic counselor for assistance mitigating risks.

Read more about it at www.counsyl.com

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