April 02, 2015 12:00 ET

LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services Offers Genetic Screening in Canada that can Detect Carriers of Over 100 Hereditary Health Conditions

The Counsyl Family Prep Screen Helps Identify the Chance of Having a Child With a Genetic Condition

TORONTO, ONTARIO and VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - April 2, 2015) -

Attention Business & Healthcare Editors

LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services today announced the availability of the Counsyl Family Prep Screen in Canada. The Counsyl Family Prep Screen can detect if a person carries a genetic health condition that can be passed unknowingly from parent to child. LifeLabs is offering the Counsyl Family Prep Screen in Canada through an exclusive distribution agreement with health technology company Counsyl. The Counsyl Family Prep Screen is a simple test that looks at a person's DNA for more than 100 serious genetic diseases. This test is intended for couples, allowing them to make informed decisions when planning to have a baby. The test has been available in the United States since 2009.

"We are delighted to partner with Counsyl to offer Canadians access to genetic data that will help them make informed decisions in partnership with their health care providers," said Sue Paish, President and CEO of LifeLabs, Canada's largest community based laboratory services company. "We are committed to building a healthier Canada through genetics-based testing that provides valuable information for use in health care planning, diagnosis and treatments and, to provide this information in a way that is tailored to each individual's unique genetic blueprint."

Physician societies, such as the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) as well as the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (CCMG), recommend carrier screening for people of certain populations, where there is a higher incidence of specific genetic conditions. Other physician societies including the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), recommend that all pregnant women or anyone planning a pregnancy be offered carrier screening for certain genetic conditions.

The Counsyl Family Prep Screen includes a broad panel of conditions relevant to diverse populations. A positive result means that a prospective parent is a healthy "carrier" of a genetic disease. When both parents are carriers of the same disease, they have a one in four chance of giving birth to a child that is at risk for that disease, including Cystic Fibrosis, Wilson's disease, and Tay-Sachs disease, among many others. These are health conditions where advance knowledge can change the way a couple approaches family planning.

"Even without a family history of a disease, a person can still be a carrier," said Jeff Sumner, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Clinical Affairs and Genetics at LifeLabs. "It is relatively common to be a carrier - in fact, at least 24 per cent of individuals screened with the Family Prep Screen are found to be a carrier of at least one condition. What you really want to know is if you are both carriers of the same disease which can unknowingly be passed from parent to child."

"Counsyl has screened over 400,000 people in the United States and identified at-risk couples who otherwise would not have known their children could inherit a serious disease. We are pleased to extend this service to Canadian couples, so they can make important choices about the health of their families," said Tom Schoenherr, Counsyl's Chief Commercial Officer.

Beginning on April 1, 2015, physicians across Canada can order the test that consists of a simple blood draw collected through LifeLabs, or a self-collected saliva sample. This test is useful for individuals or couples planning a pregnancy or who are currently pregnant; individuals from certain populations where some of these conditions are more prevalent (e.g. Tay-Sachs disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish or French Canadian population); or for people who are adopted and unaware of their family histories, but would like to know if their future children are at increased risk for specific diseases.

LifeLabs is committed to bringing clinically relevant and meaningful genetic testing to Canadians. In addition to the Counsyl Family Prep Screen, LifeLabs also provides the Prosigna test for breast cancer and the Panorama non-invasive prenatal screening test. LifeLabs has partnered with Centogene, Contextual Genomics and Natera to deliver the world's best genetic tests. Genetic and genomic testing are the fastest growing segments in laboratory medicine and have the potential to offer a new standard of care and provide better clinical outcomes for Canadian patients.

For more information about the Counsyl Family Prep Screen, the cost of the test, and how physicians in Canada can order the tests, visit the LifeLabs Genetics website or email

About LifeLabs:

LifeLabs is a Canadian-owned company and is the country's largest provider of community laboratory services with over 50 years of experience providing laboratory testing services to help health care providers diagnose, treat, monitor and prevent disease in patients. In communities across British Columbia and Ontario, LifeLabs delivers cost-effective, convenient access to laboratory testing services which are essential for optimal outcomes in health care. LifeLabs employs approximately 5,400 professionally trained staff and delivers over 100 million laboratory tests, serving 19 million patients annually. In 2013, LifeLabs acquired BC Biomedical in British Columbia and CML HealthCare in Ontario making LifeLabs the largest community laboratory in Canada. LifeLabs is indirectly owned by OMERS Administration Corporation, whose interest is managed by Borealis Infrastructure. For more information about LifeLabs Genetics visit LifeLabs is a Proud Supporter of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

About Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc.:

Borealis is a leader in direct infrastructure investing with over a decade of investment experience. Borealis manages approximately CAD 10 billion in OMERS equity capital through investments in a diversified portfolio of large-scale infrastructure assets exhibiting stability and strong cash flows, in sectors including energy, transportation and government regulated services. It has offices in Toronto, London and New York. Borealis is the infrastructure investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada's largest pension funds with over CAD 72 billion in net assets.

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