Hereditary haemochromatosis (HH) is one of the most common inherited diseases among Caucasians. Two mutations in the HFE gene have been implicated in HH: 80 to 90% of the patients with HH are homozygous for the point mutation CYS282Tyr, while the majority of the remaining patients displays either a compound heterozygosity for the mutation CYS282Tyr and the point mutation HIS63Asp, or are homozygous for HIS63Asp. Though the disease can be treated easily, symptoms are non-specific, and onset and severity are influenced by environmental factors, and therefore the disease can remain undetected until decades of iron overload lead to irreversible damage in a variety of organs, which may result in their failure. In order to detect patients with HH, simple and cost-effective tests are needed. We have developed a rapid, automated, PCR-based test which makes use of a diagnostic restriction site in each of two amplified fragments. The test employs off-the-shelf chemistry and uses the automated detection process of an immunoassay analyzer that is available in many clinical laboratories, thus avoiding an additional investment in a more specialized PCR analyzer. Because of its low costs and easy handling, the assay is particularly suited for the routine clinical laboratories.
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