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National Reference Laboratory launches newborn screening service

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ABU DHABI, 9th November, 2020 (WAM) — The National Reference Laboratory, NRL, has announced the launch of a newborn screening service capable of detecting 43 metabolic, endocrine, hemoglobin and other disorders most relevant to the UAE and the region.
The time-sensitive tests are performed at NRL’s Industrial City of Abu Dhabi, ICAD, laboratory, which has ISO-1589 and College of American Pathologists, CAP, accreditation, both internationally recognised marks of excellence in laboratory standards.
The turnaround time is typically between 24 to 72 hours, and the service is led by an American and Canadian dual Board-certified Clinical Biochemical Geneticist, who is available to discuss results with healthcare professionals and provide recommendations on further steps.
Abdul Hamid Oubeisi, Chief Executive Officer at NRL, explained, "We are delighted to offer this testing service within the UAE. Pre-symptomatic identification of those treatable diseases strengthens our commitment to improving the health outcomes of the UAE population. The new tests expand on our significant expertise and specialised menu of more than 4,700 tests – one of the largest laboratory test menus globally, thanks to NRL’s partnership with leading diagnostics company LabCorp."
NRL’s Chief Medical Officer and ICAD Laboratory Medical Director, Dr. Basel Altrabulsi, said, "Inborn errors of metabolism and other conditions on the newborn screening panel are serious disorders that are usually not apparent at birth. If undetected, these may cause brain damage, a life threatening-episode or even death. Newborn screening tests allow healthcare providers to identify these treatable disorders very early in life, before irreversible health damage occurs."
He stated, "By performing the tests in-country, rather than sending samples overseas for analysis, we are able to cut down the turnaround time, and ensure the accuracy and reliability of our results.
Dr. Altrabulsi says newborn screening is a painless process performed within 24 to 48 hours after birth. The infant’s heel is gently pricked to collect a few drops of blood on filter paper cards, which are then analysed. The list of disorders for which NRL screens is aligned with the latest recommendations from the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, but with an emphasis on diseases common to the region and for which treatments are available.
NRL will also introduce the corresponding confirmatory tests for most disorders, making it only one of a few laboratories in the region to do so. A confirmatory test uses a different methodology to confirm or negate a positive result from a screening test.
Used together, screening and confirmatory testing will allow the detection of inherited and congenital disorders that could lead to serious physical or mental disabilities, or even be fatal.