Genomic Vision Extends Collaboration with Quest Diagnostics to Improve SMA Diagnosis
Genomic Vision and Quest Diagnostics have agreed to extend their collaboration focusing on the potential development of new biomarkers to improve genetic diagnosis of spinal muscular atrophy. The partners will accelerate the pace of their efforts to identify new biomarkers with the possibility of detecting SMA “2+0” carrier status, referring to carriers who have two survival motor neuron 1 gene copies on one chromosome and none on the other. The identification of this rare form of mutation would lead to improved sensitivity in SMA screening. This announcement follows previous research by the two companies that demonstrated evidence that this pattern could be detected by molecular combing, a user-friendly technique that allows DNA to be analyzed at the single molecule level. Although healthy parents of a child with SMA carry the SMN1 gene defect, they do not have any symptoms of the disease. A carrier with the 2+0 pattern cannot be distinguished from a noncarrier, and test results may not reliably identify this particular carrier status. Genomic Vision has pioneered a molecular combing system that could potentially detect this pattern and reliably identify carrier status. This test stretches and assembles millions of large DNA fragments in a single step. The resulting DNA is organized in discrete strands, allowing for analysis at the single molecule level. Under the new agreement, Quest will be solely responsible for developing, validating, and offering new lab tests.