Dr. Peter Ainsworth

Adjunct Professor, LHSC
Office: LHSC (Victoria Hospital B10-128)
519.685.8122, ext. 58122
E-mail: ainswort@uwo.ca

The recent explosive growth of the field of molecular genetics has created opportunities for the development of a wide range of both diagnostic and therapeutic medical applications unimaginable just a few years ago, and promises to have a major impact on the practice of medicine into the next century.

Applications of diagnostic molecular biological techniques in medical genetics make it possible not only to identify carriers of mutations associated with the more classical, clinically identified, inherited diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, but also to potentially identify specific gene mutations in otherwise well individuals, who may then be considered to be at a higher than average risk of developing disease. This latter development of Predictive Genetics arguably represents the greatest potential area of growth in modern genetics, and will allow the identification of predisposition to a wide variety of mainstream medical conditions, including various cancers, cardiomyopathies, complex metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus, disorders of lipid metabolism, as well as a variety of neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

The earliest examples of pre-symptomatic testing are currently seen in the field of Cancer Genetics, specifically the diagnosis of a predisposition to Hereditary Breast or Ovarian Cancer (HBOC), Hereditary Non Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC), or Hereditary Endocrine malignancies (MEN 2), which already account for more than 50% of the workload of the LHSC MDxL.