Gattaca is not that far away!. For the second time in as many months the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has signed a licensing agreement with US-based Athena Diagnostics Inc. to market a new genetic test for a certain type of inheritable intelligence.
The test was developed by CAMH scientist Dr. John Vincent as well as independent clinical researcher Dr. Muhammad Ayub. It is based on their research into genetic causes of intellectual disability. The test analyzes a small sample of blood or saliva for the CC2D2A gene mutations that cause about 10% of cases involving a type of intellectual disability, similar to that in Joubert’s syndrome. As an autosomal-recessive disorder, if both the mother and father carry a mutated copy of the gene, Joubert’s syndrome can occur in one out of four of their children. The current research by Drs. Vincent and Ayub is based on findings in families where cousin-cousin marriage is common.
Intellectual disability affects about one in 100 individuals worldwide. There are many types and causes of mental retardation or intellectual disability. It is estimated that up to half of all intellectual disability is caused by genetic mutation. Genetic counsellors will assist physicians to interpret the results for each client and family. “Many affected families are eager for information that will help them understand the cause of the condition, as well as the risk of passing the disorder on to their offspring,” adds Dr. Vincent. “Our test will provide more accuracy to physicians who are trying to identify these hard-to-diagnose cases, and help them offer appropriate genetic counselling to family members who request it.”