Birth… the beginning of a family’s story.

But for families of babies born with a rare genetic disease, the story is one fraught with challenges on their journey to an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care.

Imagine if we could change the narrative for those families from the very start.

Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine is helping to rewrite the story for infants with rare diseases through BeginNGSTM

BeginNGS is a novel health care delivery system designed to screen newborns for genetic diseases — and connect their doctors with effective interventions.

Genetic diseases are chronic, progressive, and can be life-threatening. 

They may not appear until later in childhood; however, the effects may begin before symptoms manifest. The effects may be irreversible if not diagnosed and treated.

Sometimes the solution is as simple as a vitamin supplement.

Other times, the baby can receive cutting-edge gene therapy and grow up to be a typical healthy child, like Fitz Kettler, pictured here.

Fitz runs towards the camera

With BeginNGS, the combination of newborn rWGS® and a new treatment guidance system — Genome-to-Treatment (GTRxTM)helps ensure each baby is screened for genetic conditions for which interventions exist, and helps physicians provide effective interventions in a timely manner.

What is BeginNGS?

BeginNGS is an RCIGM-led pilot that uses rapid whole genome sequencing (rWGS) as a screening tool for newborns, to identify genetic conditions before infants get sick. The BeginNGS pilot is not about replacing the current biochemical newborn screening approach (for roughly 60 known conditions) – rather, it is a complement to the newborn screening processes and infrastructure that are already in place.

Technological advances in rapid whole genome sequencing (rWGS) have made it possible to return test results in just a few days at a lower cost.

As our understanding of genetic diseases grows, and the pace of therapeutic innovation accelerates, newborn screening by rWGS may provide a more dynamic way of expanding the number of conditions.

Since the whole genome is sequenced, the screening can be rapidly expanded to include new disorders as effective interventions become available.

magnifying glass over a DNA helix

Screening

Screening newborns for ~400 genetic diseases with known intervention options using rWGS

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Diagnostic Report

Diagnosing rare disease earlier to facilitate access to Rapid Precision Medicine™

Rapid Intervention

Employing Genome-to- Treatment (GTRx) to provide immediate intervention guidelines to clinicians

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Stephen Kingsmore
Rylee

By rewriting the beginning, we can help families end their diagnostic and therapeutic odysseys so they can fill their stories with hope.

— Stephen Kingsmore, MD, DSc
President & CEO, Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine

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Rylee
Rylee

Early diagnosis of rare disease patients will open the door to ongoing monitoring of symptoms and gathering of critical natural history data

— Charlene Son Rigby
CEO, Rare-X

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Why Now?

There are over 30 million rare disease patients in the United States and over 5,000 rare disease clinical trials underway. Ending the diagnostic and therapeutic odyssey is finally within our grasp. Without disruptive progress, precision medicine at scale isn’t possible. BeginNGS will help us identify rare disease patients earlier, increase clinical trial enrollment and rapidly progress rare disease treatment.

Join Us

Interested in partnering with us or learning more about the project?

How It Will Work

  • This pilot includes birthing hospitals throughout the U.S. and abroad.

  • Blood-spot samples will be collected at the time of birth and sent to the lab where WGS will be performed.

  • Genomic analysis and interpretation will be performed for ~400 early onset actionable genetic conditions.

  • When a positive screening result is detected, a confirmatory diagnostic test will be completed before a result is returned to the ordering physician.

  • Additionally, physicians will be provided with guidance on appropriate medical management, including all available interventions.

Ready to Learn More?

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Related Publications

Automated prioritization of sick newborns for whole genome sequencing using clinical natural language processing and machine learning

Genome Med. 2023 Mar 16;15(1):18. doi: 10.1186/s13073-023-01166-7. ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: Rapidly and efficiently identifying critically ill infants for whole genome sequencing (WGS) is a costly and challenging task currently performed by scarce, highly trained experts and is a major bottleneck for application of WGS in the NICU. There is a dire need for automated means to prioritize patients for WGS. METHODS: Institutional databases of electronic health records (EHRs) are logical starting points for identifying patients with undiagnosed Mendelian diseases. We have developed automated means to prioritize patients for rapid and whole genome sequencing (rWGS and WGS) directly from clinical notes. Our

Scalable, high quality, whole genome sequencing from archived, newborn, dried blood spots

NPJ Genom Med. 2023 Feb 14;8(1):5. doi: 10.1038/s41525-023-00349-w. ABSTRACT Universal newborn screening (NBS) is a highly successful public health intervention. Archived dried bloodspots (DBS) collected for NBS represent a rich resource for population genomic studies. To fully harness this resource in such studies, DBS must yield high-quality genomic DNA (gDNA) for whole genome sequencing (WGS). In this pilot study, we hypothesized that gDNA of sufficient quality and quantity for WGS could be extracted from archived DBS up to 20 years old without PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) amplification. We describe simple methods for gDNA extraction and WGS library preparation from several

25: A Multicenter Cohort Analysis of Rapid Genome Sequencing in the PICU

Critical Care Medicine 51(1):p 13, January 2023. Genetic disorders contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality in pediatric critical care. Diagnostic rapid whole genome sequencing (rWGS) has dramatically impacted care in neonatal intensive care units (ICU). There remains a population of undiagnosed patients with rare genetic diseases who present critically ill to the pediatric ICU (PICU) and the application of rWGS in this setting is not yet fully described. This study evaluated the clinical utility of rWGS in the PICU. DOI: 10.1097/01.ccm.0000905976.97417.e4

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