(RADY'S) - Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is launching Project Baby Bear, the first California State funded program to offer rapid whole genome sequencing (WGS) for critically-ill newborns.
The $2-million Medi-Cal pilot program will provide genome testing for babies hospitalized in intensive care.
Project Baby Bear will leverage rapid WGS as a first-line diagnostic test done by Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine for babies at four participating hospitals statewide.
“We are honored to be selected as the first California children’s hospital to use the Medi-Cal platform to deliver access to this life-changing test to children who need it, regardless of their family’s ability to pay,” said Donald Kearns, MD, MMM, President and CEO of Rady Children’s. “California is once again leading the way in improving the lives of children and families with Project Baby Bear.”
Whole genome sequencing has been used at Rady Children’s to diagnose babies and children hospitalized in intensive care with rare diseases since July 2016, but only as part of clinical trials.
As of Sept. 20, the Institute has sequenced nearly 1,200 children. More than one-third (34 percent) received a genomic diagnosis enabling physicians to make life-changing adjustments in care for 70 percent of those diagnosed.
Until the initiation of Project Baby Bear, whole genome sequencing has not been covered by insurance or Medi-Cal and was available only through clinical trials paid for by research grants or philanthropic donations.