If you think you're the only one with an aching back, take note. Experts say three out of every 100 people have some form of scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. No one knows the cause, but doctors say it's hereditary. Now a new test can detect the disease in kids.
Softball means the world to 11year old Danielle Paradis.
"The day I started playing it, I fell in love with the sport," said Paradis.
That world fell apart when she was diagnosed with scoliosis last year.
"If I get liked tagged in the back, or something, I might start crying cause it really hurts,” explained Danielle.
Her spine has a 20 degree curvature. Experts say anything over 10 degrees needs attention. A normal spine has no curve.
Doctors can put young scoliosis patients in a brace, which slows curve progression in 75 percent of cases. While they may prevent surgery, braces can be bulky and embarrassing for children.
"If your curve is not going to change, then we can kind of let you go free, but there is no way we have right now to really accurately tell us that,” said Dr. Mark Lee of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Dr. Lee says something called a "scoli-score" test may solve the problem. A saliva sample is checked for 53 DNA markers.
Then, patients get a score between one and 200.
"A low score tells me that, the curve that you have, when you come to see me, will not change at all, and the high score tells me that the curve probably will change and you might need surgery down the line,” said Dr. Lee.
For Danielle's parents, it offers a sort-of security.
"No matter how early you detected it, if it does go to surgery, you know it couldn't have been prevented,” said Tina and Jeff Paradis.
Danielle now wears a back brace at night but still suits up for every game.
"I love the rush,” said Danielle. “I just love everybody on my team."
This test can be performed on nine to 13 year olds who've already been diagnosed with scoliosis. In addition, many insurance companies cover the cost of the test.
GENETIC TEST FOR SPINAL PAIN
BACKGROUND: Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most
often during the growth spurt just before puberty. While scoliosis can be
caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the cause
of most scoliosis cases is unknown. Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but
severe scoliosis can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce
the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to
function properly. Children who have mild scoliosis are monitored closely,
usually with X-rays, to see if the curve is getting worse. In many cases, no
treatment is necessary. Some children will need to wear a brace to stop the
curve from worsening. Others may need surgery to straighten severe cases of
The Scoliscore Test is the first and only genetic test proven to give
physicians and family insight into the possible progression of a child's
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS), thereby allowing for a more personalized
treatment plan for the child. The test should be administered prior to
beginning scoliosis treatment, since the Scoliscore test may help physicians
make more informed decisions about how to manage a child's curve. (Source:
TAKING THE TEST: Physicians can administer this test by collecting a child's
saliva sample during a routine office visit. The test assigns a numerical value
(between 1 and 200) to the likelihood of curve progression based on the
child's DNA, and the current Cobb angle. The physician can then use this
information, combined with other clinical factors, to determine a personalized
treatment plan for the child.
HOW THE TEST WORKS: The test uses specific DNA markers to predict the
likelihood that an AIS curve will progress. Researchers identified 28 signs in
DNA that an AIS curve will progress, and 25 signs in DNA that an AIS curve will
not progress. Children with AIS have both sets of signs in their DNA. The
ratio of signs present in a DNA sample predicts the likelihood that the child's
curve will or won't progress. A validated algorithm generates a Scoliscore
number unique to your child's individual genetic markers. This score is
provided to the child's physician in a test report.
WHAT'S NEXT: Axial Biotech, Inc. - the company that manufactures this product -
believes they have broken the code to scoliosis. They are now trying to
identify genetic links that could potentially serve as a basis for a predictive
test for the treatment of degenerative disc disease.
For More Information, Contact:
Eric K. Olson
Axial Biotech, Inc.
801-984-9100 x 129