Gene testing

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Learn about the uses of genetic testing, including pre-natal diagnosis, childhood testing, and adult testing. Understand the ethical dilemmas involved in decision-making. Study the role of a genetic counselor and gain insights into diseases that can be tested for.

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This free course, Gene testing, looks at three different uses of genetic testing: pre-natal diagnosis, childhood testing and adult testing. Such tests provide genetic information in the form of a predictive diagnosis, and as such are described as predictive tests. Pre-natal diagnosis uses techniques such as amniocentesis to test fetuses in the womb. For example, it is commonly offered to women over 35 to test for Down’s syndrome. Childhood testing involves testing children for genetic diseases that may not become a problem until they grow up, and adult testing is aimed at people at risk of late-onset disorders, which do not appear until middle age. In addition, we address some of the issues involved in carrier testing, another predictive test. This involves the testing of people from families with a history of genetic disease, to find out who carries the gene, and who therefore might pass the disease onto their children even though they themselves are unaffected. Here the aim is to enable couples to make informed choices about whether or not to have children, and if so whether they might have a genetic disease studies ‘proteins’. Starting with a simple analysis of the molecular make up, the course moves on to look at the importance of protein and how they are digested and absorbed.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

Understand something of the role of a genetic counsellor and its non-directiveness

Understand the difference between pre-natal diagnosis, childhood testing and adult testing and give some examples of diseases that may be tested for

Understand the ethical and moral difficulties involved in making decisions on whether or not to carry out such tests.

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