Sheba Medical Center’s National Newborn Screening Program saves eight potential ‘Bubble Babies’

SHEBA NEWS – December 15, 2016

From: PR Sheba – Ulrike Haen

Sheba Medical Center’s National Newborn Screening Program saves eight potential ‘Bubble Babies’

Babies with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency), who used to die or be kept for years in “bubbles” because they lacked any immune system to protect them, undergo bone marrow transplants and are cured of the condition.

At Sheba’s Sigi and Marilyn Ziering National Center for Newborn Screening, headed by Prof. Moshe Almashano, the blood of every newborn baby in Israel is tested the day after he or she is born. A simple procedure, where a drop of blood from the heel of the baby is collected through pinprick puncture and is smeared and soaked on a pre-printed collection card, called Guthrie card, then immediately delivered and tested at the Sheba Medical Center. 180,000 babies were born and tested in 2016.

By screening the blood for SCID, hypothyroidism and a number of other diseases such as PKU (phenylketonuria – an inborn error of metabolism that results in reduced metabolism of the amino acid phenylalanine; if untreated, it can lead to intellectual disability, seizures, behavioral problems and mental disorder), future disabilities and sometimes fatal disorders can be avoided, sometimes through a simple change of diet and in cases of SCID by bone marrow transplant.

Prof. Raz Somech, head of the pediatrics B department of Sheba’s Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital and head of the Israel Society for Primary Immunodeficiency, finally succeeded, last winter, to get the SCID test included in the basket of the Israeli Health Service. Eight potential ‘bubble babies’ were detected, underwent bone marrow transplant and were cured of the condition.

Prof. Somech is leading this national project and his pediatrics B department was chosen and received the international acknowledgement of the prestigious Jeffrey Modell Foundation (JFM) for Clinical and Research Excellence in Primary Immunodeficiencies. JMF has developed a global network of specialized centers for diagnosis, clinical care, and research to find treatments and cures for primary immunodeficiencies. Prof. Somech’s department is one of them.

Learn more about the Sheba Medical Center at

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