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Am J Med Genet A. 2013 Jan;161A(1):145-52. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.35737. Epub 2012 Dec 3.

A sensitive and specific diagnostic test for hearing loss using a microdroplet PCR-based approach and next generation sequencing.

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Department of Medical Genetics, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.


Implementing DNA diagnostics in clinical practice for extremely heterogeneous diseases such as hearing loss is challenging, especially when attempting to reach high sensitivity and specificity in a cost-effective fashion. Next generation sequencing has enabled the development of such a test, but the most commonly used genomic target enrichment methods such as hybridization-based capture suffer from restrictions. In this study, we have adopted a new flexible approach using microdroplet PCR-based technology for target enrichment, in combination with massive parallel sequencing to develop a DNA diagnostic test for autosomal recessive hereditary hearing loss. This approach enabled us to identify the genetic basis of hearing loss in 9 of 24 patients, a success rate of 37.5%. Our method also proved to have high sensitivity and specificity. Currently, routine molecular genetic diagnostic testing for deafness is in most cases only performed for the GJB2 gene and a positive result is typically only obtained in 10-20% of deaf children. Individuals with mutations in GJB2 had already been excluded in our selected set of 24 patients. Therefore, we anticipate that our deafness test may lead to a genetic diagnosis in roughly 50% of unscreened autosomal recessive deafness cases. We propose that this diagnostic testing approach represents a significant improvement in clinical practice as a standard diagnostic tool for children with hearing loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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