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Friday 28th October 2016

New DNA test for scoliosis

29th September 2009

A DNA-based test is changing the way people children and teenagers with scoliosis receive treatment.


Scoliosis is a deforming disease that causes the spine to develop a curvature, usually during teenage years.

The test provides doctors with information about how much of a spinal curvature a person with scoliosis will eventually develop.

The disease is usually first noticed in a person's teenage years.

Doctors have previously been unable to take any preventative measures for people who have scoliosis, because there is no way to tell how much of a curvature sufferers will eventually develop using current methods.

Michael Vitale, chief of paediatric spine and scoliosis surgery at a hospital in New York and Professor of Clinical Paediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery at Columbia University, said that molecular testing promises to be a major breakthrough for the treatment of scoliosis.

He said that doctors will be able to personalise care, with evidence indicating whether a child's spine will continue to curve or if it will stay the same, which will be much more efficient for both patients and caregivers.

The test, known as ScoliScore, was developed by Axial Biotech Incorporated.

It uses a DNA sample from the patient's saliva.

If the test reveals that the patient is at risk of developing a severe curve requiring surgery, doctors will be able to take preventative measures sooner rather than later.

Since less than 10% of scoliosis sufferers eventually need surgery, people whose likelihood of developing severe scoliosis is low will not have to waste their time taking as many x-rays as they might have otherwise.

It is estimated that 4% of all children between the ages of 10 and 16, or 80% of all scoliosis cases, would benefit from taking the ScoliScore test.

Vitale, who has been involved in validating the test with its maker, said that doctors may need to come up with a new name for so-called "idiopathic" scoliosis, since ScoliScore has shown that there is a genetic basis for it.

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