Researchers at King’s College London have developed a test to screen patients for a range of genetic and acquired illnesses from a single spot of dried blood. The test uses mass spectrometry to analyze diagnostic peptides and metabolites in the blood and overcomes the need for larger liquid blood samples which are currently used.
The approach had been developed previously to screen for inherited metabolic disease and sickle cell disease in newborn infants. The researchers have now expanded their method to accommodate the early detection and monitoring of kidney disease, heart disease and diabetes.
According to the press release:
• The method is faster, more specific, and cheaper than the methods currently used to screen all 750,000 babies born each year in the UK for sickle cell disease and other clinically significant haemoglobinopathies (abnormalities in haemoglobin within the blood). The current methods for ante-natal screening for sickle cell disease and thalassaemia require fresh liquid blood samples, which are more expensive to
process, store and transport.
• The method has already been successfully used to provide rapid diagnosis of a
comprehensive range of inherited metabolic diseases in acutely ill children admitted
to intensive care with life-threatening symptoms.
• Pre-symptomatic screening for chronic health problems will introduce personalised
clinical diagnostics and cost-effective early detection and monitoring of diabetes and
kidney and heart disease.
The requirement for a single drop of dried blood in place of a larger volume of liquid blood, has major advantages for the logistics and time associated with similar existing screening techniques. King’s College London officially launched a spin-out company this week, SpOtOn Clinical Diagnostics Ltd, to provide this new screening and analytical technique to other clinical laboratories. By the sounds of things, the diagnostic potential of this technique is set to grow. We think Dexter Morgan would have a field day.