Company Makes SMA, CF Gene Screening More Accessible for Would-be Parents


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Good Start Genetics

A new saliva-based screening test for the two most commonly inherited genetic disorders, cystic fibrosis (CF) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), is now available through Good Start Genetics, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The test, called VeriYou, costs less than $150.

Because one in every 19 people are gene carriers for CF or SMA, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) both recommend that prospective parents and all women of childbearing age be tested.

The screening process begins online. After registration, completing a family history report, and signing a consent agreement, a licensed physician will review the information and order the test. Clients provide a saliva sample and mail it back.

The results are delivered online in a secure and interactive manner. Necessary information, including how to ask more questions and receive follow-up clarification from a physician or genetic counselor, will be provided.

“At Good Start Genetics, we believe that genetic testing should play a more significant role in preventive care and be accessible to all who need it, not just those with the highest incomes or the broadest insurance coverage,” Jeffrey R. Luber, Good Start’s president and CEO, said in a press release.

“As an important step in this mission, we intend to vastly improve access to physician-supported genetic testing for more couples planning to start a family by introducing affordable, quality testing for CF and SMA,” he said.

The test, launched Oct. 13, expands the company’s testing portfolio into two new tiers. The first tier reinforces the company’s existing relationship with fertility centers that offer genetic testing for a broad range of disorders that include CF, SMA, fragile X syndrome, and sickle-cell disease. The second tier gives better access to millions of prospective parents who want affordable CF and SMA testing.

“Our proprietary and patented methods give us the ability to rapidly deliver highly accurate results regardless of genetic target or disorder, and whether someone comes to us through a clinic or as a patient online looking for reliable and affordable genetic testing,” said Greg Porreca, the company’s chief technology officer.