The first gene chip ever to be developed for detecting SCID (primary immunodeficiency) in newborns will be presented to researchers for the first time at the New York Academy of Sciences' and Jeffrey Modell Foundation's one-day conference, Primary Immunodeficiencies: Past, Present, Future.
The meeting will take place on April 25 at Rockefeller University, Caspary Auditorium, 1230 York Avenue, NY, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Thirty of the world's leading immunology investigators will present their findings and 350 scientists and physicians are expected to attend.
Public awareness of the Primary Immunodeficiencies disorder increased with the release of the film "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" starring John Travolta as a child stricken with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) who lived in a plastic enclosure until his death.
In the past, a newborn diagnosed with SCID would not survive to his or her first birthday. Now, researchers have attained a ninety percent success rate in bone marrow transplantation and treatment advances can cure certain "Bubble Boy" diseases.
Gene therapy and stem cell research also promise more exciting breakthroughs.
"This is incredibly exciting. The Jeffrey Modell Foundation began this collaboration with NIH and Affymetrix only six months ago and never dreamed that this technology could have been accomplished in such a short period of time," said Fred Modell, co-founder of the Jeffrey Modell Foundation.
"The introduction of this new technology will have significant impact not only on SCID newborns but a wide variety of diseases and disorders."
In October 2005, the Foundation committed one million dollars to develop a newborn screening test for SCID, which was targeted to be achieved over two years.
The goal was to develop a chip to sequence known mutations as well as develop a "resequencing chip" to look for new mutations.
Amazingly, the more difficult gene chip was developed months ahead of time and will be presented as part of Dr. Jennifer Puck's report on the use of microarray technology in developing genetic screening for SCID.
In addition, the conference will feature an overview of PI and four plenary sessions that detail the immense progress that has been made within the last 20 years.
Advances include the high success rate for bone marrow transplantation for unrelated, matched donors and treatments using gene therapy.
In addition, researchers are optimistic that stem cell research may yield new treatments in the future.