Chennai-based stem cell bank and diagnostics company LifeCell International today announced the launch of ‘RightStart’, an integrated DNA-based screening, which can diagnose over 50 medical conditions in a newborn.
Now, blood samples of babies are obtained by through ‘heel prick’, usually 48 hours after birth, to check for the presence of a specific set of metabolites. If abnormal metabolic profiles are found, the newborn is put through variuos follow-up tests that require fresh drawing of blood.
““RightStart adopts an integrated DNA testing approach under which a portion of the sample collected initially can be used for subsequent tests if the DNA tests are positive,” said Mayur Abhaya, Managing Director, LifeCell International. “It’s cheaper, better and faster.”
Pointing to the high number of false-positive cases, Abhaya said that multiple follow-up tests require frequent drawing of blood samples. This and the time and money spent on diagnosis cause anxiety to parents.
“Congenital hyperthyroidism, Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) and Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) are some of the conditions common to newborns and can be detected earlier through the integrated DNA testing,” said S Giridhar, Executive Board member, Tamil Nadu National Neonatology Forum.
Giridhar said the DNA testing takes 4-5 days against the earlier 4-6 weeks, giving a headstart in treatment if the newborn tests positive for any problem.
Noting that incidence of consanguineous marriages is highest in India, Giridhar said hearing defects and hyperthyroidism are the major defects arising out of such marriages, and can be detected earlier through the integrated DNA testing method.