12 April 2008

DNATraits: Jewish genetic panel price break

During April, as Jews around the world gather for the Passover holiday, DNATraits is offering a major price break for the most comprehensive testing panel available for the Ashkenazi-descent Jewish population.

The special April price for the panel of 25 Jewish genetic conditions is $199, complete with genetic counseling review, instead of $299. Both prices contrast with fees at other testing companies (direct-to-consumer and universities) which charge $600-$1,500 for panels of only 6-11 diseases. DNATraits hopes this unprecedented move will change genetic testing industry standards.

“We believe that knowledge is power. The knowledge of being a carrier can ensure that the necessary steps are taken to prevent a disease from being transmitted to the next generation. Since Tay Sachs testing began in the Jewish community, the incidence of Tay Sachs in Jewish babies has dropped 90 percent.

The same can happen for the other diseases in this panel, all it takes is knowing whether you are a carrier for one of these diseases included in the Ashkenazi Panel,” said DNATraits founding partner Bennett Greenspan.

The bottom line is that for a mere $8 per disease, one can learn if s/he is a carrier for a large number of serious Jewish genetic diseases in the Ashkenazi community. If a parent or grandparent tests positive, there is urgency in having younger children test. If the Jewish community tested for these conditions prior to marriage - as is done for Tay Sachs in the Orthodox community - the incidence could be lessened.

Some individuals have asked why the breast cancer gene is not included in this panel. Greenspan explained that BRCA1 and BRCA2 are patented by Myriad Genomics, and no one can test for them unless a patent royalty system is first worked out. He said that Myriad charges $450 for three variants of BRAC2 while DNATraits now charges $199 for 25 other Jewish inherited diseases (and many variants). "If they weren't patented in the US, we would offer them," he said. "We will probably offer them in Europe where the US patent isn't applicable (the European Union tossed out the patent a few years ago."

Tracing the Tribe readers will remember that I wrote about Dr. Doron Behar's announcement of the founding of DNATraits at a meeting of the JFRA Israel genealogy society in this blog posting (the Jerusalem Post articles links were still live today). Since that posting, the Ashkenazi panel price has been reduced to encourage testing within the Jewish community.

For more information, click here.

Here's the press release from DNATraits:

DNATraits Launches Most Comprehensive Ashkenazi Inherited Diseases Panel at Unprecedented Low Price

HOUSTON – In an unprecedented move that will change standards in the genetic testing industry, DNATraits launched today the most comprehensive panel of tests for the Jewish population of Ashkenazi descent.

The panel includes tests for 25 diseases and will be offered at an introductory price of $199 during the month of April. After April, the regular price for this panel from DNATraits will be $299, still substantially below other offerings: other direct-to-consumer companies and university hospitals offer to test six to eleven diseases at prices ranging from $600 to $1500,

DNATraits utilizes a simple at-home saliva kit to collect personal DNA samples and provides results, complete with genetic counseling review, in four to six weeks.

“We believe that knowledge is power. The knowledge of being a carrier can ensure that the necessary steps are taken to prevent a disease from being transmitted to the next generation.

Since Tay Sachs testing began in the Jewish community, the incidence of Tay Sachs in Jewish babies has dropped 90 percent. The same can happen for the other diseases in this panel, all it takes is knowing whether you are a carrier for one of these diseases included in the Ashkenazi Panel,” said DNATraits founding partner Bennett Greenspan.

With years of experience in genotyping for large corporations and delivery of DNA-related information to hundreds of thousands of customers, other partners in the venture include Phil Robinson, co-founder of Kbiosciences in the UK, Doron Behar, MD, PhD at the Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, and Max Blankfeld, managing partner of Family Tree DNA.

DNATraits offers the least expensive medically validated tests in the world accompanied by free genetic counseling to ensure clients receive accurate and understandable results. DNATraits’ approach meets the guidelines set forth by the HIPPA and the policy statement issued by the American College of Medical Genetics.

Information about the Ashkenazi Panel can be found at site www.dnatraits.com/ashkenazi. The Web site also provides tutorials, service descriptions, and listings of medically validated tests available to consumers. Cystic Fibrosis and Tay-Sachs are among the well-known inherited disorders available for testing, but Greenspan said his team of physicians and scientists are constantly culling the latest medical research to identify new verifiable markers for inherited genetic disorders.

For additional information, please contact Max Blankfeld –max@dnatraits.com or call (713)868-1438

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