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New methods make genetic testing simpler and faster

September 27, 2017

September is Tay-Sachs Awareness Month, highlighting a genetic disorder much more prevalent in the Jewish community than in the population at large. Concern about Tay-Sachs led to interest in screening for Jewish genetic diseases in the 1970s. Since then, the incidence of Tay-Sachs disease, which is invariably fatal, has fallen by more than 90 percent because of genetic screening. Jerry Feldman, M.D., a professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and director of its Clinical Genetic Services, says the number of identified disorders more common in the Ashkenazi Jewish community has grown to more than 80, but he notes that beyond that, different labs may test for additional mutations that are found in many ethnic groups.