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Dried Blood Test Developed, Spin-Off Company Formed

Red blood cell (science360.gov)

Red blood cell (science360.gov)

Researchers at King’s College London have developed a process to screen patients for genetic and acquired clinical conditions from a single dried blood spot.  The college also started today a spin-off diagnostics company providing services using this method.

The test, developed by a team from King’s College and clinician collaborators from King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, uses mass spectrometry to analyze proteins, enzymes, and metabolites in the blood. Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique to identify unknown compounds, to quantify known compounds, and to clarify the structure and chemical properties of molecules, usually with very small specimen samples.

Collection of dried blood spots is less invasive for patients and eliminates many of the costs the costs and biohazards associated with shipping larger blood samples needed with current testing technology. The test converts proteins in the dried blood sample to peptides that are then subjected to a mass spectrometer to select and measure diagnostic metabolites or peptides. Liquid blood and urine samples can also be screened using the method.

King’s College today officially launched a spin-off company, SpotOn Clinical Diagnostics Ltd in London, to provide both analytical services and technical support for clinical labs, many of which already have appropriate mass spectrometry instrumentation. The company says its patented methods are based on research at King’s College done by faculty members Neil Dalton and Charles Turner.

The college says this method — requiring only a drop of blood from a simple finger-prick or heel-prick in newborns —  already provides rapid diagnosis of many inherited metabolic diseases in acutely ill children admitted to intensive care with life-threatening symptoms. The technology could also be used in screening of newborns for sickle cell disease and other hemoglobin abnormalities; some 750,000 babies are screened each year for these conditions in the U.K.

Dried urine spots can also be used for the early detection of kidney disease, particularly in patients with a high risk of developing renal complications, such as patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

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