Chicago Fertility Center Performs New Clinical Test for High Resolution Genetic Screening

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Next-Generation Sequencing, the latest advancement in genetic screening technology, now clinically available for treatment at Fertility Centers of Illinois

Dr. John Rapidsarda of Fertility Centers of Illinois

I believe that next generation sequencing will revolutionize our understanding of the genetic basis of countless disease states.

Fertility Centers of Illinois (FCI) announces the clinical use of Next Generation DNA Sequencing (NGS) in its reproductive genetic health program. Previous genetic screening methods, known as Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS), have allowed scientists to examine the chromosomes of embryos made in an IVF laboratory. Many thousands of healthy babies have been born using PGS to detect chromosome disorders such as Down syndrome. These traditional technologies have utilized microarrays of 3,000 DNA targets across the human genome to examine the chromosomes of each IVF embryo. With advances from the Human Genome Project, newer technologies such as Next-Generation Sequencing of DNA, allows for the interrogation of millions of DNA locations along the human chromosomes, effectively improving the precision of the test by 1000-fold. This state-of-the-art molecular genetics test is now being performed at Fertility Centers of Illinois (FCI). The technology became clinically available this year.

FCI recently performed the first case of NGS for chromosome screening in Illinois. The testing was performed in conjunction with Genesis Genetics, a genetic testing company with its world headquarters located in Plymouth, Michigan.

This new high resolution genetic screening method provides more clearly defined data, allowing for issues to be diagnosed with greater accuracy. NGS can help couples undergoing fertility treatment prevent miscarriage and deliver a healthy baby by diagnosing genetic disorders prior to embryo transfer, as well as help couples select the most viable embryos for treatment.

NGS is a fundamentally different approach to extracting genetic information from cells. It provides scientists a more detailed perspective on the entire genome and is significantly less expensive than previous methods of DNA sequencing. Its application in counting chromosomes to avoid genetic syndromes, discovering new genes and new gene products, and direct analysis of hereditary DNA mutations are all currently being used to give physicians and their patients a better understanding of their genetic makeup, or that of their embryos.

As a woman ages, the risk of delivering a baby with a genetic disorder increases. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, at 36 years of age the risk of Down Syndrome is 1/289 while the risk of any chromosomal disorder is 1/127. These numbers respectively increase to 1/106 and 1/66 at age 40, then progress to 1/30 and 1/21 at age 45. Non-profit organization Global Genes™ estimates that 80 percent of rare diseases are caused by faulty genes, with approximately 1 in 10 Americans or 30 million people currently living with rare diseases. The statistics for women opting to delay motherhood also continue to rise. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control reported nine times as many first births to women 35 and older than there were 40 years ago.

“I believe that next generation sequencing will revolutionize our understanding of the genetic basis of countless disease states,” says Dr. John Rapisarda, reproductive endocrinologist and director of the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Center of Excellence at Fertility Centers of Illinois. “This information will provide invaluable insight into the underlying cause of many previously unexplained pregnancy losses, and help couples and individuals in their goal of becoming parents.”

“Genesis Genetics is the largest and most experienced provider of pre-implantation genetic testing in the world, and we’re excited to offer next generation sequencing and to partner with the Fertility Centers of Illinois and the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Center of Excellence,” says Tony Gordon, Ph.D., a Managing Director of Genesis Genetics. “We believe this new technology will make genetic screening more affordable for patients, and set the benchmark as the new standard for fertility treatment in the future.”

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Fertility Centers of Illinois is one of the leading fertility treatment practices in the United States, providing advanced reproductive endocrinology services in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. FCI physicians, embryologists and support staff are stringently chosen based on educational background, medical skills and their ability to collaborate. With a team of 11 nationally and internationally recognized reproductive physicians who treat thousands of patients each year, the practice has earned a reputation for overcoming hard-to-solve fertility issues. FCI is dedicated to medical and clinical excellence and continues to invest in the latest technologies and research. FCI offers a comprehensive range of fertility treatment options including intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, donor egg, gestational carrier, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, as well as extensive resources to address financial and emotional needs. Fostering a culture for continuous innovation has made FCI home to the annual Midwest Reproductive Symposium which attracts experts in the field of reproductive endocrinology from around the world. FCI has 10 offices conveniently located throughout the Chicagoland area (Buffalo Grove, Chicago/River North, Crystal Lake, Glenview, Highland Park, Hoffman Estates, Lindenhurst, Warrenville, Oakbrook Terrace, and Tinley Park). FCI is a member of the Attain Fertility Network which provides discounted fertility treatment programs. For more information call 877-324-4483 or visit http://www.fcionline.com

Genesis Genetics is a DNA diagnostic company specializing in Genetic and Reproductive Health. Partnering with assisted reproductive clinics and hospitals around the world, the company routinely provides critical genetic diagnostic data on a single cell, a single gene, a single DNA mutation – all overnight. This represents both the theoretical and practical limits of DNA diagnostics. As the global leader in the field of Preimplantation Genetics, the company has 11 full-service, accredited laboratories around the world. Recently featured on the CBS network newsmagazine “60 minutes” the company strives to educate, guide and provide physicians and patients with the genomic technologies important in reproductive health. For more information on Genesis Genetics please call 313-579-9650 or visit http://www.genesisgenetics.org

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Gina Kremer