Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD)‘s Newborn Screening Pilot has been successfully screening babies born in New York State for Duchenne for over a year. Data were presented at the Association of Public Health Laboratories Newborn Screening Virtual Symposium about the ongoing pilot in New York State.

As of the end of August 2020, nearly 14,000 newborns have been screened. Fourteen babies have been referred for significantly elevated levels of the muscle isoform of creatine kinase (CK-MM), suggestive of a muscular dystrophy, and two of these babies have been confirmed to have Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy.

This pilot testing program was launched in October 2019 in collaboration with a precompetitive consortium that includes the Newborn Screening Translational Research Network (NBSTRN) and New York State. The goal of PPMD’s Newborn Screening Pilot is to prevent families from experiencing an unnecessary diagnostic odyssey and ensure that every family receives timely, supportive, accurate resources at the time of diagnosis, according to a media release.

Screening Infrastructure

According to Founding President and CEO, Pat Furlong, PPMD has led a national effort to build a newborn screening infrastructure for Duchenne in the US aimed at developing the evidence to support Duchenne newborn screening for the last six years.

“This is a hopeful time in Duchenne therapy development. We have a robust experimental therapy pipeline targeting multiple physiological pathways and multiple Duchenne product reviews currently underway. Yet it is believed that therapeutic interventions may be optimally effective the earlier they can be offered.

“It is the goal of PPMD and the Duchenne community to help eliminate the diagnostic delay in Duchenne through a public health program that includes newborn screening. We are grateful to all of our collaborators, including the NIH-funded Newborn Screening Translational Research Network (NBSTRN) and the New York State Department of Health, for all of their work to advance this pilot through its first year.” 

— Pat Furlong

The pilot program – designed to set up, validate and conduct a consented pilot screen for infants born at select hospitals in New York State – utilizes tools, resources, and expertise at PPMD, NBSTRN, and the New York State Department of Health.

The pilot is being funded and led by a consortium of Duchenne industry partners and PPMD with a commitment to early diagnosis and intervention in Duchenne. Current consortium members include PTC Therapeutics, Sarepta Therapeutics, PerkinElmer, Solid Biosciences, Pfizer, Inc., and PPMD. The pilot is guided by a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from healthcare professional groups and key Duchenne stakeholder communities including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EveryLife Foundation, and the Genetic Alliance’s Expecting Health.

Niki Armstrong, PPMD’s Newborn Screening Program Manager, recognizes that conducting a pilot in 2020 in New York in the midst of a pandemic has required flexibility and perseverance.

“The clinical sites at Northwell Health and New York Presbyterian Hospitals and the New York State Newborn Screening lab have had to pivot and develop new strategies so that babies can continue to be enrolled in the pilot and screened while maintaining the safety of the pilot staff and the families. We are grateful for their exceptional leadership and dedication.”  

— Niki Armstrong

Screening Agenda

In addition to launching the Duchenne newborn screening pilot program, PPMD’s newborn screening agenda includes active involvement on the reauthorization of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act; annual Duchenne-specific language within Appropriations and Report Language to ensure federal partners are focused on Duchenne newborn screening efforts; engagement with the federal Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders for Newborns and Children; and leading the National Duchenne Newborn Screening Initiative, which has included the development of published care standards for newborns, ethical considerations for Duchenne newborn screening, and the publication of A Roadmap to Newborn Screening for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the release continues.

“We are exceptionally grateful to the families, experts, and partners who have helped us to get to where we are today—two babies identified with Duchenne or Becker who now have access to early interventions and care. Obviously no one wants their child to be diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but I am a firm believer that knowledge is power in our fight to end the progression of this deadly disorder. Without newborn screening, these families may have spent years on a stressful and exhausting diagnostic odyssey. 

“Early diagnosis means early intervention, which will mean the best possible outcomes for these babies. Our hope is that this pilot, in combination with all of the past and ongoing pilots, will lay the groundwork for Duchenne newborn screening to be performed across the country.”

— Pat Furlong

[Source(s): Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, PR Newswire]

Related Content:
Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy Expands Duchenne Program, Certifies New Clinics
Akron Children’s Hospital Certified as Pediatric Duchenne Care Center
Kennedy Krieger Becomes the First Dual-Certified Duchenne Clinic