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Low cost DNA test to determine inherited disease risk

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A fast, low cost DNA test which can determine a person’s chances of developing certain inherited diseases could soon be a reality, scientists said today.

A drop of saliva will be enough to allow medics to pinpoint variations in patients’ genetic code in a test being formulated by experts at Edinburgh University.

Tiny differences or omissions at critical points in the DNA chain can determine whether or not a person is healthy, prone to disease, or has a life-threatening condition such as cystic fibrosis.

The method, based on chemical analysis, is cheaper and promises prompter results than conventional DNA testing because it does away with the need for expensive enzymes, researchers said.

Dr Juan Diaz-Mochon, of the University’s School of Chemistry, said: “This technology offers a speedy, cost-efficient alternative to existing methods of DNA analysis.

“The market for DNA testing is quickly expanding as it becomes more affordable. Our method could help reach the goal of complete genome analysis in a few hours for less than $1000 (£637).”

Professor Mark Bradley, who also took part in the study, added: “We plan to test the technology further, extend our collaborations with leading researchers and companies in the DNA sequencing field and establish our first commercial operations within the next six months.”

The study, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, was funded by Scottish Enterprise.

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