- Title: 'Blue blood' bid to encourage DNA screening
- Date: 6th November 2016
- Summary: GENETICISTS DISCUSSING RESULTS
- Embargoed: 21st November 2016 10:08
- Keywords: DNA nobility Lobkowitz Kladruby Bohemia nobility noble aristocrat
- Location: VARIOUS LOCATIONS, CZECH REPUBLIC
- City: VARIOUS LOCATIONS, CZECH REPUBLIC
- Country: Czech Republic
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA00557B0GUZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: When Johann Lobkowitz died some 170 years ago, little did he know that scientists in 2016 would unearth his remains from the cemetery in the Czech village of Kladruby in a bid to encourage screening for genetic diseases.
DNA from the skeleton is being analysed to see if it has a genetic link to the distinguished Lobkowitz family - now referred to with the Slavic spelling Lobkowicz - one of the oldest Bohemian noble families dating back to the 14th century.
The same test is on offer to members of the public keen to see if they too are related to the surviving family members.
Geneticists in Prague hope the prospect of discovering aristocratic lineage will encourage more people to have their DNA analysed - allowing scientists to also screen them for genetic diseases.
"The first part (of the research) is the romantic part, where we are searching to see if any descendants are still living in the Kladruby region. The second part is the clinical part, which is technically similar to the first one, and there we are searching for the transmitter and carrier of some genetic varieties which can cause serious diseases in children," geneticist Emanuel Zdarsky told Reuters.
Interested locals can submit their DNA to the laboratory in the form of a saliva sample. The test is also open to Czechs living further afield and even abroad.
"People wishing to undertake this test don't have to visit an ambulance. It is enough if they spit saliva on to any kind of paper, dry it and post it," Zdarsky explained.
Scientists then analyse the DNA both for a link to the Lobkowicz family and for a variety of genetic defects.
For example, they can test whether prospective parents are carriers of cystic fibrosis.
Tereza Kolarova has taken part in the research. She said that linking the process to the Lobkowicz family was a good way to encourage more people to submit samples.
"The name is well known enough to chime with the subconscious mind of the Czech population and suggest the great abilities of this research. I think that's alright, because this is a great method which brings only positive results - you will know if you deliver a healthy child," she said.
Zdarsky said the researchers' aim is to test as many people across the Czech Republic as possible.
The screening is being offered for free to anybody who wants to take part.
The Lobkowicz family is one of the oldest Bohemian noble families, dating back to the 14th century.
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