A survey of current practice in genetic testing in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the UK and Republic of Ireland: implications for future planning.
De Oliveira HM., Soma A., Baker MR., Turner MR., Talbot K., Williams TL.
Objective: To determine the current practice in genetic testing for patients with apparently sporadic motor neurone disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (MND/ALS) and asymptomatic at-risk relatives of familial MND/ALS patients seen in specialized care centers in the UK. Methods: An online survey with 10 questions distributed to specialist healthcare professionals with a role in requesting genetic testing working at MND/ALS care centers. Results: Considerable variation in practice was found. Almost 30% of respondents reported some discomfort in discussing genetic testing with MND/ALS patients and a majority (77%) did not think that all patients with apparently sporadic disease should be routinely offered genetic testing at present. Particular concerns were identified in relation to testing asymptomatic at-risk individuals and the majority view was that clinical genetics services should have a role in supporting genetic testing in MND/ALS, especially in asymptomatic individuals at-risk of carrying pathogenic variants. Conclusions: Variation in practice in genetic testing among MND/ALS clinics may be driven by differences in experience and perceived competence, compounded by the increasing complexity of the genetic underpinnings of MND/ALS. Clear and accessible guidelines for referral pathways between MND/ALS clinics and clinical genetics may be the best way to standardize and improve current practice, ensuring that patients and relatives receive optimal and geographically equitable support.