Genomic Technology Could Save Newborns In Future, Say Researchers


As we mark the International Children’s Day today on 20 November 2013, scientists from Missouri are promising a brighter future for ill children in hospitals in years to come, as they have discovered new technology using DNA sequencing and analysis that could cut down infant mortality rates.

Scientists for the next five years, from the Children’s Mercy will be analyzing the genomes of about 1,000 of babies born with disorders to fully understand the benefits of two-day genomic diagnosis, following a $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to carry out research on the outcomes of using rapid genomic sequencing on newborns with disorders.

This technology that uses rapid DNA sequencing and analysis is able to identify genetic mutation that keeps babies from developing properly in addition to analyzing critically ill infants’ genomes using fast whole genome analysis treatment.  in last year September the National institutes of Health offered a grant of $18.7 million USD for research projects to improve human gene sequencing.

Reports indicate that the hospital team identified the cause of one infant’s problems that involved a genetic disorder that is treatable with intensive treatment that includes nutritional support that would in turn stimulate her cells mitochondria while ruling out other progressive and fatal conditions. The genomic diagnosis helped shape her clinical care giving advice on what nutritional supplements the she was to take.

As the gene tests and genome analyses take weeks, the hospital claims to use more efficient tech tools that can quickly identify potentially medically relevant variation in a patient’s three billion base pairs of DNA.

Yet, many countries have experienced high infant mortality rates. But this new procedure would see the death rates dwindle further, especially in Africa and Asia, not just the USA.  There has been progress in reducing infant mortality rates in urban areas of Africa, Americas and Asia. The urban poorest that makes four fifths of Africa’s population has on average witnessed a decrease in infant mortality rate from 99 per 1000 live births in the 1990s to 70 per 1000 live births in 2000-2007. While in Asia, the poorest four fifths in urban areas have experienced a fall in infant mortality rates from 81 to 51 per 1000 live births between 1990s and 2000-2007, on average says a WHO report.

When it comes to applying the genome technology, the challenge however lies in the fact that few people worldwide have had whole genome sequencing, scientists in need of millions of patients especially infants with various conditions before knowing what the whole human genome sequences are needed, say.

In all, a robust “bioinformatics infrastructure” that includes computing power and high level expertise will be key for labs that are interested in running the next generation sequencing of DNA, say reports.