Doctors make advancements in medical mysteries

Exome sequencing genetic testing

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - There is nothing scarier for a parent than having a sick child -- even worse when doctors don't know why they're sick.

But new medical advancements that are helping doctors solve these medical mysteries in the form of genetic testing.

Exome sequencing is a unique type of genetic testing that allows doctors to analyze 20,000 genes at one time. In the past, doctors had to examine only one gene at a time and now, they can do it at a fraction of the cost.

Dr. Stanley Nelson with UCLA Health says, "Oftentimes we're now turning to exome sequencing. Sequencing every single protein-coding gene in one fell swoop as the go-to diagnostic test.”

This new type of testing takes a matter days instead of months, which Dr. Julian Martinez with UCLA Health says makes all the difference when it comes to saving lives. “Sequencing is like doing a spell check on your genes and making sure that there are no mistakes or spelling mistakes that could be causing problems with your health."

Exome sequencing is advancing so fast that doctors want to move to whole genome sequencing which would allow them to analyze three billion different gene compounds at one time.

Van Andel Research Institute does some of those genetic mapping tests.

One thing to keep in mind though, it may not be covered by insurance. But the good news is it's not terribly expensive. It costs just under $1,000.

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