The centre for human genetics (CME - centrum menselijke erfelijkheid) at UZ Leuven organises the genetic consultations of the hospital. Patients with a hereditary disorder are provided with advice, a diagnosis and treatment. In addition to the medical part, there is a lot of attention for the social, ethical and psychological aspects. Every year, CME staff has on average 6,000 patient contacts.
To come to a diagnosus, the centre for human genetics annually performs 40,000 genetic tests on patient samples from all over the country. The lab tests trace molecular defects in case of genetic disorders, but also for cancer, as for leukaemia patients, other types of haematological cancer and solid tumours.
Groundbreaker for genetic research
The genetic experts use the newest technologies for chromosomal and molecular genetic research. For genome-wide analyses they use the array-technology, next generation sequencing and SNP genotyping. The centre for human genetics' diagnostic labs are continuously developing and implementing genetic tests. For instance UZ Leuven was the first Belgian hospital to adopt the non-invasive NIPT test for pregnant women, which has replaced the first high-risk amniocentesis or CVS test to detect disorders such as Down syndrome in the unborn child. UZ Leuven also fine-tuned the genetic tests to detect breast cancer. A DNA test can detect defects in the BRCA1- and BCRA2 gene, both in persons with a cancer diagnosis and family members without a diagnosis of cancer.