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Firm Brings Gene Tests to Masses

The new movie “Extraordinary Measures” is based on the true story of a father who starts a company to develop a treatment for the rare genetic disease threatening to kill two of his children before they turn 10.

Now, a Silicon Valley start-up is making the bold claim that it can help eradicate that disease and more than 100 others by alerting parents-to-be who have the carrier genes.

The company, Counsyl, is selling a test that it says can tell couples whether they are at risk of having children with a range of inherited diseases, including cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, spinal muscular atrophy, sickle cell disease and Pompe disease (the one afflicting the children in the movie).

Once informed, Counsyl says, couples can take steps like using in vitro fertilization with genetic testing of the embryos, to avoid bearing children who would have the diseases, many of which are incurable and fatal in childhood.
 
 

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