In this section
Here we are providing a selection of key readings on the application of genetic testing to brain disorders and a list of the main European research centres in this field. More important, following the second bid workshop "brains in dialogue on genetic testing" we are updating an open-to-discussion section on genetic testing.
Predictive medicine in brief
The recent availability of high-density genotyping devices allows the identification of the genetic basis of common diseases and is crucial in understanding the interplay between genetic and environmental risk factors.
Very few brain diseases originate from mutations in a single gene, such as Huntington disease. In this case a pre-symptomatic test can determine whether a person will develop the disorder later in life. In most psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases the situation is more heterogeneous and complex, with no single or simple mode of inheritance. For example only few rare (“familial”) forms of Alzheimer or Parkinson diseases are caused by mutations in single genes, but the susceptibility for the most common (“sporadic”) forms shows less obvious or no familial aggregation and seems to be linked to a number of different genes. In this case, predictive testing can provide information about a person’s risk of developing the disorder.
The results of genetic testing may help with making decisions about medical care and family or career planning. However, since testing has both benefits and limitations, the decision about whether to be tested is a personal and complex one. A genetic counsellor can help by providing information about the test and discussing the social and emotional aspects of testing.
If you want to read more on genetic testing please visit our Links page or look for a research centre.