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Veritas Genetics to Provide BRCA Testing for Canadian Hereditary Cancer Screening Effort

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Veritas Genetics announced today that it has agreed to provide BRCA testing for men and women who participate in a new initiative called The Screen Project being conducted at Toronto's Women's College Hospital (WCH).

The program, led by researchers WCH's Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit, will screen participants for BRCA1 and BRCA2. The Screen Project was started by researchers Mohammad Akbari and Steven Narod. Akbari is most well-known for having co-discovered the RECQL breast cancer susceptibility gene, and Narod was on the team that discovered BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Screening for BRCA mutations is offered in Canada only to people who meet strict eligibility requirements based mostly on family history of breast cancer, despite those mutations appearing in about one of every 200 people in that country, Veritas said. "Population-based genetic testing is a new approach for widespread screening in Canada that we hope will change the current genetic testing paradigm," Narod added in a statement.

The Screen Project offers BRCA1 and BRCA2 screening to all Canadians, 18 years and older, for a fee of $165. Once they enroll online, participants receive a saliva testing kit. Danvers, Massachusetts-based Veritas will process those samples at its lab, and the results will be reported to the patient within two to four weeks. Those who test positive for a BRCA mutation will be contacted by the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at WCH and will be offered additional clinical guidance.

The goal of the project is to enroll 10,000 participants in a year.

"We now know using family history as the only selection criteria for genetic testing can make us miss up to half of all individuals who would greatly benefit from early access to this information," Veritas Cofounder and CEO Mirza Cifric said. "This is the first of several population-based initiatives we at Veritas will be rolling out in various countries over the coming months. These screening efforts will be coupled with the appropriate follow-up clinical care."