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Chromosome Probes at the University of Toronto Uploaded November 29 1986 Sensitive chromosome probes recently discovered by a University of Toronto geneticist will make it easier to detect certain types of genetic and prenatal diseases as well as being used to determine paternity and provide forensic evidence in criminal cases Probes are short pieces of DNA which bind to and actually pinpoint particular sites on a chromosome Because these new probes are actually repeated hundreds or thousands of time at a particular site they are much more sensitive than previously available ones Of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes Dr FH Willard has discovered repeated probes or markers for six plus the gender determining X and Y chromosomes What were trying to decide now is whether to isolate probes for the other chromosomes or whether we should utilize the eight we have he says Dr Willard is currently negotiating with an American company to develop prenatal diagnostic tests which because the current tests are time consuming and technically difficult to do are restricted to women over 35 and those who have a family history of chromosomal abnormalities Prenatal tests using Willards probes would be much simpler and faster to perform and could be available to all pregnant women who wish to take advantage of the technology Current prenatal testing involves growing fetal cells in vitro and examining them over one or two months to see if there are two copies of a particular chromosome which is normal or one or three which is abnormal A test using Willards probes would require only a few cells and a few days to detect abnormalities I dont think its beyond the realm of possibility that these kinds of tests could eventually be done by an obstetrician in the office during the early stages of pregnancy he adds The determination of gender is another possible use for the probes Many diseases such as Duschenes
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