Research Article

Molecular genetics in clinical practice: evolution of a DNA diagnostic service.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 01 October 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:843
  1. A. L. Meredith,
  2. M. Upadhyaya,
  3. P. S. Harper
  1. Institute of Medical Genetics, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff.


    The development of a molecular genetics diagnostic service over a three year period was studied in a National Health Service region with a population of three million. Starting from a time when few diagnostic applications were possible, the number of disorders and the overall demand had grown rapidly. Conditions for which molecular genetic diagnosis had been provided included Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy, Huntington's disease, and cystic fibrosis. Of 405 requests for diagnosis, 151 (37%) related to determination of carrier state, 187 (46%) to determining the feasibility of future prenatal diagnosis, and 67 (17%) were prenatal diagnostic biopsy samples, almost exclusively of first trimester chorion. DNA samples for future diagnostic use with a wide range of genetic disorders had also been banked. The study showed a need for close integration with clinical genetics services to allow satisfactory genetic counselling and interpretation of risks.