Large-scale genetic screening programs are complex enterprises in which ethical, technical, medical, and socioeconomic aspects have to be handled with professional expertise. Establishment of automated, relatively robust, and inexpensive laboratory techniques is one step of this path. Here a pilot carrier-screening program for the mutations causing aspartylglucosaminuria was carried out for pregnant women in primary care maternity health offices. Women (1975) were tested before their 12th week of pregnancy, and 31 heterozygotes were detected. The sampling was based on dried blood strips, facilitating convenient handling and inexpensive mailing to the laboratory. The mutation detection technique, solid-phase mini-sequencing simplified by the use of scintillation microplates and automated equipment, proved to be rapid, simple, inexpensive, and reliable, with a low repeat rate (2.5%). In conclusion, we found that good collaboration between the primary healthcare unit, the laboratory, and counseling experts, combined with modern laboratory technology, facilitate reliable low-cost genetic testing.
1996. Vol. 42, no 9, 1398-1404 p.