Saliva Test That Screens Possible Carriers of Cystic Fibrosis Available Online

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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DNA screening

Good Start Genetics  has announced the launch of VeriYou, its new saliva-based screening test for cystic fibrosis (CF) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), two common inherited genetic diseases.

The screening kit is available for order on the company’s website, for a cost of about $150, and results — with a technical accuracy of 99.9 percent — are available in about two weeks, Good Start Genetics noted. The site includes detailed instructions on how to collect a saliva sample.

According to a company press release, one in every 19 people (or 5.3 percent) worldwide carries a CF or SMA mutation that could be passed to their children. For this reason, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends  women of reproductive age undergo screening for CF, and the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) advises it for both diseases.

“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,” said Jeffrey R. Luber, its president and chief executive officer.

The kit can be requested by a prospective parent, who must first submit required information (like medical history and consent forms). A licensed physician then reviews the application and orders the test, if considered appropriate. Confidential results are delivered online along with further educational information, and the process is interactive, so that people ask follow-up questions directly to physicians and connect with genetic counselors.

Screening is done by isolating copies of a person’s DNA from the cells of the cheek that are found in saliva, and then conducting carrier testing on those DNA samples.

“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. This two-disorder test will serve as a complement to the multi-disorder testing we will continue to offer through our fertility clinic relationships nationwide,” added Luber.

VeriYou advances Good Start Genetics services in two ways, the company reported. First, it strengthens the company’s ties with fertility centers, offering broad testing for CF and SMA, as well as for sickle cell disease or fragile X syndrome, and includes new variant detection and full genetic counseling services. Second, it opens CF and SMA testing to a broader patient population by working through physician-mediated channels.

“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, Good Start Genetics’ chief technology officer. “Whether in reproductive health, oncology, pediatrics, or elsewhere, we intend to leverage our platform and significant cost advantages broadly in order to bring affordable genetic testing to families wherever clinical need presents.”