California-based Ambry Genetics has launched +RNAinsight, a new genetic test that's being hailed as the biggest advancement in the field in over a decade.
+RNAinsight allows clinicians – for the first time ever – to test patients for DNA and RNA mutations at the same time.
This is known as 'paired' testing, with the addition of RNA analysis widening the net to help doctors more quickly and thoroughly identify genes that carry a high risk of hereditary diseases, especially cancer.
With roughly 700,000 Americans turning to clinical-grade DNA testing each year, Ambry Genetics estimates that up to 16,000 lives could be saved by using the new method.
These figures could be on the conservative side, too, as consumer interest in the best DNA testing kits for home use contributes to an overall surge in curiouristy regarding all things genetic.
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The main benefit of paired DNA and RNA testing is improved 'diagnostic yields', which is lab talk for the number of patients identified with a specific hereditary risk of cancer.
In trials featuring some 2,500 patients, +RNAinsight improved recognition of high-risk genes – including BRCA1, PMS2, MSH2 and ATM – by over 15% compared to DNA testing alone.
Overall diagnostic yields were up by around 7%, while inconclusive results were reduced by roughly 5%, in the pilot run.
"Paired RNA and DNA genetic testing is a remarkable leap forward. My patients are finally getting answers I was unable to provide before," commented Dr Huma Rana, Clinical Director of Cancer Genetics and Prevention at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Other benefits of paired testing include a reduction in result processing time – two to three weeks for +RNAinsight, versus up to six months for retrospective RNA testing – and the elimination of multiple blood draws and clinician appointments.
+RNAinsight is available now through doctors and genetic counselors in the US. Consult your primary care provider to learn more about availability near you.
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Like most clinical-grade genetic testing, it's unlikely to come cheaply, though some of the best health insurance providers may be able to help you save a few pennies.
Healthcare professionals can learn more about +RNAinsight and order a sample kit here.
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