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One Test Offers 11 Answers with New Genetic Disease Carrier Screening Education Campaign.

NEW YORK -- Genetic Disease Foundation:

--Follows Recent American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Endorsement

--Similar Carrier Screening for Tay-Sachs Decreased Incidence of Disease by over 90%

--Mother Who Lost Two-Year-Old Son to Genetic Disease Spearheads Campaign to Spare Anguish for Other Families

Based on recent advances in genetics, it is now possible to identify individuals who are carriers for 11 life-threatening diseases. As a result, the Genetic Disease Foundation (GDF) this week launches the 'One Test. Eleven Answers.' campaign to alert more than 31,000 of the nation's obstetricians and their patients that enhanced carrier screening tests for couples are available prior to or early in their pregnancies.

In August, the Genetics Committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended additional screenings and education for at risk couples, as the success of Tay-Sachs carrier screening can now be expanded to 11 diseases that are more frequent in Ashkenazi Jews than in the general population.

About one in five Ashkenazi Jews is a carrier of one of the 11 diseases. The ACOG Committee recommends that testing should be offered to Jewish couples, as well as to couples in which one member has a Jewish ancestor or when one partner is Jewish.

Only one blood sample is needed from each individual to perform all 11 tests.

Five years ago, Elisa and Jim Ross lost their two-year-old son to Niemann-Pick disease, one of the 11 diseases for which genetic carrier screening is available.

"I was tested for Tay-Sachs disease, but wasn't informed of other screening options at the time," said Elisa Ross, GDF President. "Our goal at the Foundation is to educate other couples and to support research to identify, treat, cure and ultimately prevent genetic diseases so that others can avoid my family's experience.

The 'One Test. Eleven Answers.' is a national campaign promoting genetic testing for the following diseases: Bloom Syndrome, Canavan Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Familial Dysautonomia, Fanconi Anemia type c, Gaucher Disease, Glycogen, Mucolipidosis IV, Type A Niemann-Pick Disease, and Tay-Sachs Disease.

"The recent ACOG Genetics Committee Opinion recommends that obstetricians inform couples of Ashkenazi Jewish descent about the availability of carrier screening for additional Jewish genetic diseases," says Robert J. Desnick, Ph.D., M.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Human Genetics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and Scientific Advisor to the GDF. "The good news is the recent availability of screening for these genetic diseases permits couples to test for all 11 devastating diseases with only one blood sample."

The Genetic Disease Foundation was established in 1997 by patients, parents and families as a non-profit organization dedicated to research, treatment and cure of genetic diseases. Vital to this goal is the education of patients, physicians and the public. GDF also supports research designed to improve genetic testing and to discover ways to treat, cure, and ultimately prevent genetic diseases.

The campaign poster design was donated by Zimmerman Partners Advertising, one of the nation's largest advertising agencies.

For more information about the Genetic Disease Foundation, call 212-659-6704 or log on to http://www.geneticdisease.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jan 24, 2005
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