Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is one of the leading genetic causes of infant mortality with an incidence of 1:10,000. The recently-introduced antisense oligonucleotide treatment improves the outcome of this disease, in particular when applied at an early stage of progression. The genetic cause
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Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is one of the leading genetic causes of infant mortality with an incidence of 1:10,000. The recently-introduced antisense oligonucleotide treatment improves the outcome of this disease, in particular when applied at an early stage of progression. The genetic cause of SMA is, in >95% of cases, a homozygous deletion of the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1
) gene, which makes the low-cost detection of SMA cases as part of newborn screening programs feasible. We developed and validated a new SALSA MC002 melting curve assay that detects the absence of the SMN1
exon 7 DNA sequence without detecting asymptomatic carriers and reliably discriminates SMN1
from its genetic homolog SMN2
using crude extracts from newborn screening cards. Melting curve analysis shows peaks specific for both the SMN1
gene and the disease modifying SMN2
homolog. The detection of the SMN2
homolog, of which the only clinically relevant difference from the SMN1
gene is a single nucleotide in exon 7, was only used to confirm a correct reaction in samples that lacked the SMN1
gene, and not for SMN2
quantification. We retrieved 47 DBS samples from children with genetically-confirmed SMA, after informed consent from parents, and 375 controls from the national archive of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The assay correctly identified all anonymized and randomized SMA and control samples (i.e., sensitivity and specificity of 100%), without the detection of carriers, on the three most commonly-used PCR platforms with melting curve analysis. This test’s concordance with the second-tier ‘golden standard’ P021 SMA MLPA test was 100%. Using the new P021–B1 version, crude extracts from DBS cards could also be used to determine the SMN2
copy number of SMA patients with a high level of accuracy. The MC002 test showed the feasibility and accuracy of SMA screening in a neonatal screening program.