The Center for Molecular Diagnostics and Genome Research, recently established at Drexel University College of Medicine, focuses its efforts on developing molecular and genetic techniques applicable to the clinical setting. As part of its affiliation with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Center’s primary research area is the development of new methods for non-invasive prenatal genetic screening and diagnosis. These techniques currently involve isolating fetal cells and DNA from the blood of pregnant women, as well as testing patients for predisposition to various genetic diseases. Additional projects are also under development in the fields of preimplantation genetics, stem cell biology, cancer genetics, and the molecular basis of aging.
What is molecular diagnostics and genome research?
Molecular diagnostics is a relatively new field, which utilizes techniques of molecular biology to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious, genetic, and toxicological diseases. Recent advances in molecular biology and genetics, including the completion of the Human Genome Project, has revolutionized the way in which scientists search for the causes of diseases. New techniques and technology allow the detection of small changes in biologically important compounds. This, coupled with the increased knowledge of the sequence and function of genes, will significantly increase the medical procedures available for combating genetic diseases, eventually leading to a more personalized and efficient medicine.
Molecular diagnostics offers the highest possible accuracy and sensitivity. These types of tests are already able to predict susceptibility and predisposition to certain diseases. In the near future, they will be able to suggest the optimum method of treatment for many health-related problems, specific to the individual patient. In spite of the fast pace of progress in molecular biology and genetics, in order to encompass the entire spectrum of human diseases and health-related conditions, a number of new methods still have to be developed. The ongoing research at the Center for Molecular Diagnostics and Genome Research is part of the efforts of the scientific and medical communities to improve the current tests and to develop more effective diagnostic procedures.