Invitae Launches Free Genetic Testing for At-risk Adults

Invitae Launches Free Genetic Testing for At-risk Adults
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Invitae has launched a new genetic testing program, at no charge to participants, to test adults suspected of having — or at risk of developing — neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.

The Adult Neurodegenerative Disorders sponsored testing program will be available to eligible individuals, ages 18 and older, in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Brazil.

The program is the latest in the company’s efforts to make genetic testing more accessible through sponsored screenings and counseling. The goal is to enable at-risk individuals to confirm diagnoses, receive appropriate treatment, identify family members who also may be at risk, and participate in clinical trials.

“Early access to genetic testing has been shown to significantly speed time to diagnosis in neurological conditions,” Robert Nussbaum, MD, chief medical officer of Invitae, said in a press release.

“By offering no-charge, sponsored testing we are removing another barrier to testing, helping more patients benefit from genetic-informed care,” he said.

To be eligible for the program, individuals must be suspected of having or at risk of developing Parkinson’s, frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), early onset Alzheimer’s disease (onset younger than age 65), or hereditary prion disease. All testing is ordered through a clinician.

Patients exhibiting symptoms, individuals with a family history of early onset neurodegenerative disease, and those with family members with a confirmed disease-causing genetic variant are also eligible for the genetic testing program. The cost of testing is covered by the program’s sponsors.

Neurodegenerative diseases are often difficult to diagnose due to the lack of reliable tests and overlapping symptoms between the conditions. Genetic testing can detect neurodegenerative disorders earlier, in some cases before patients are symptomatic. That allows for earlier diagnosis and treatment that may lead to better patient outcomes. 

“As I have seen before for many other conditions, there is a virtuous cycle in which increased access to testing leads to earlier and better diagnoses that spurs the development of new therapies and in turn drives increased access to testing and better care,” Nussbaum said.

In addition to genetic testing, the program will offer clinical support and post-test genetic counseling to patients in the U.S. and Canada who receive positive test results. 

No patient-identifiable information is shared with program sponsors.

Invitae has partnered with organizations in the past to offer genetic screening and counseling for numerous conditions, including muscular dystrophy, lysosomal storage disorders like Batten disease, and a variety of other neurological, heart, immune, metabolic, and cancer-related conditions.

Aisha Abdullah received a B.S. in biology from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Weill Cornell Medical College, where she studied the role of microRNA in embryonic and early postnatal brain development. Since finishing graduate school, she has worked as a science communicator making science accessible to broad audiences.
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Ana holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Lisbon and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Newcastle and received a Masters in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Manchester, England. After leaving the lab to pursue a career in Science Communication, she served as the Director of Science Communication at iMM.
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Aisha Abdullah received a B.S. in biology from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Weill Cornell Medical College, where she studied the role of microRNA in embryonic and early postnatal brain development. Since finishing graduate school, she has worked as a science communicator making science accessible to broad audiences.
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