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Genetic Testing and Treatment
As patients are seeking more personalized care, genetic testing has risen in popularity. This valuable tool can provide insight into a patient’s unique biological makeup. In this article, we’ll take a look at what genetic testing is, the many different forms of genetic testing, and how it may be able to help you.
Looking for genetic testing in San Diego? At Aspire Regenerative, we’re proud to offer several genetic testing options for patients seeking a deeper understanding of their vulnerabilities, inherited medical risks, potential reactions to medications, and more.
What Is Genetic Testing?
Genetic testing, or DNA genetic testing, is a broad term used to describe tests that examine a patient’s DNA to determine their vulnerabilities and likelihood of contracting inherited diseases. There are over 1,000 different types of genetic tests currently available and even more are in development. By identifying changes in either proteins, genes, or chromosomes, genetic testing can help rule out or confirm a range of genetic conditions such as breast cancer, sickle cell anemia, celiac disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
What Are the Different Types of Genetic Testing?
Genetic tests can be broken down into three main categories:
Cytogenetic Testing – This type of testing analyzes a patient’s chromosomes, which are typically obtained from a blood sample, but may also be performed on a sample of a patient’s bone marrow, amniotic fluid, or other tissues.
Molecular Testing – Molecular testing analyzes a patient’s DNA and therefore, can be performed on any type of tissue sample.
Biochemical Testing – This test analyzes either proteins, protein activity, or the level of metabolites in a patient’s body tissue. Because the tissue being tested needs to contain the protein being targeted, this type of test is performed on cerebrospinal fluid, urine, blood, or amniotic fluid, depending on what the patient is being tested for.
Who Can Benefit From Genetic Health Testing?
There are eight categories of genetic health testing and each one is used for a different purpose. The categories are as follows:
Pharmacogenetics – Drug-gene testing or pharmacogenetics can help doctors determine whether certain medications will be effective for a patient, what the ideal dosage would be for that patient, and if a patient is likely to have side effects associated with that medication. If you have been diagnosed with a particular disease or health condition and are having difficulty finding an effective treatment, you may want to ask your doctor about genetic testing for medication.
Diagnostic Testing – This type of genetic testing is used to diagnose patients who are showing signs and symptoms of a particular disease as well as patients who have a family history of a particular condition (such as Huntington’s disease) but are not yet showing symptoms.
Forensic Testing – You may be familiar with this one from watching Law & Order or CSI. Forensic testing is typically used for legal purposes to positively identify victims and rule out or implicate perpetrators. This is also the form of genetic testing used to determine biological relationships (i.e., maternity or paternity).
Presymptomatic and Predictive Testing – For patients with a family history of certain genetic conditions such as colorectal cancer, these types of tests can provide valuable insight into the likelihood of contracting that condition later in life. These tests are performed before a patient presents with symptoms, which can help patients make decisions about medical care, diet, lifestyle and more.
Carrier Testing – This test is offered to couples who have a family history of a particular genetic disorder, such as cystic fibrosis. By analyzing both potential parents’ DNA, this test can give couples more information regarding the likelihood of their children being born with certain conditions.
Preimplantation Testing – This test is also referred to as preimplantation genetic diagnosis and may be used when couples try to conceive through in vitro fertilization. Before embryos are implanted into the uterus, they can be tested for genetic changes which indicate a couple’s risk of having a child with certain disorders. When this test is used, only embryos that do not contain these genetic changes are implanted.
Prenatal Testing – Available to pregnant women in the later part of their first trimester, this type of testing assesses the risk of a baby being born with certain developmental issues or complications including Down syndrome. Historically, this test has been performed through invasive techniques, such as amniocentesis, but now there are non-invasive methods available.
Newborn Testing – Many US states require newborns to be tested for various metabolic and genetic abnormalities that lead to serious conditions, such as congenital hypothyroidism. These tests ensure these babies receive appropriate care as early as possible.
What Should I Expect if I Decide to Get Genetic Health Testing?
For many genetic tests, the process of obtaining a sample is relatively painless and quick. Often, all that is needed is a simple saliva or blood sample. However, the results of many of these tests can be life changing. Because of this, your doctor will counsel you on the potential outcomes of testing and explain possible options for you before administering any tests. It is important to make sure genetic testing is right for you.
If you’re interested in learning more about genetic testing, book a consultation at Aspire Regenerative, one of the premiere genetic testing companies San Diego has to offer. Our clinicians will assess your family history, as well as any current conditions and health concerns, so that they can offer customized care recommendations to help you reach your wellness goals.