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Epilepsy is a common neurological condition that shows a marked genetic predisposition. The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has transformed clinical genetic testing by allowing the rapid screen for causative variants in multiple genes. There are currently no NGS-based multigene panel diagnostic tests available for epilepsy as a licensed clinical diagnostic test in Ontario, Canada. Eligible patient samples are sent out of country for testing by commercial laboratories, which incurs significant cost to the public healthcare system.
An expert Working Group of medical geneticists, pediatric neurologists/epileptologists, biochemical geneticists, and clinical molecular geneticists from Ontario was formed by the Laboratories and Genetics Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to develop a programmatic approach to implementing epilepsy panel testing as a provincial service.
The Working Group made several recommendations for testing to support the clinical delivery of care in Ontario. First, an extension of community healthcare outcomes-based program should be incorporated to inform and educate ordering providers when requesting and interpreting a genetic panel test. Second, any gene panel testing must be “evidence-based” and takes into account varied clinical indications to reduce the chance of uncertain and secondary results. Finally, an ongoing evaluative process was recommended to ensure continued test improvement for the future.
This epilepsy panel testing implementation plan will be a model for genetic care directed toward a specific set of conditions in the province and serve as a prototype for genetic testing for other genetically heterogeneous diseases.
Multiple genes/variants have been implicated in various epileptic conditions. However, there is little general guidance available on the circumstances in which genetic testing is indicated and test selection in order to guide optimal test appropriateness and benefit. This is an account of the development of guidelines for genetic testing in epilepsy, which have been developed in Ontario, Canada. The Genetic Testing Advisory Committee was established in Ontario to review the clinical utility and validity of genetic tests and the provision of genetic testing in Ontario. As part of their mandate, the committee also developed recommendations and guidelines for genetic testing in epilepsy. The recommendations include mandatory prerequisites for an epileptology/geneticist/clinical biochemical geneticist consultation, prerequisite diagnostic procedures, circumstances in which genetic testing is indicated and not indicated and guidance for selection of genetic tests, including their general limitations and considerations. These guidelines represent a step toward the development of evidence-based gene panels for epilepsy in Ontario, the repatriation of genetic testing for epilepsy into Ontario molecular genetic laboratories and public funding of genetic tests for epilepsy in Ontario.
cerebellar hypoplasia is a rare malformation caused by a variety of etiologies. it usually manifests clinically as non-progressive cerebellar ataxia with or without mental retardation. we further characterize a syndrome of autosomal recessive cerebellar hypoplasia in the hutterite population, referred to as dysequilibrium syndrome (des). we reviewed 12 patients (eight females, four males; age range 4 to 33y) with this syndrome. patients were examined and underwent a standard set of investigations to characterize better the clinical features, natural history, and neuroimaging of this syndrome. des is an autosomal recessive disorder with distinct clinical features including global developmental delay, late ambulation (after age 6y), truncal ataxia, and a static clinical course. neuroimaging is characterized by hypoplasia of the inferior portion of the cerebellar hemispheres and vermis, and mild simplification of cortical gyri.
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