A Salute to the Father of Dried Blood Spot Technology
We dedicate this month’s blog post to the memory of the acknowledged pioneer in dried blood spot (DBS) technology, Dr. Robert Guthrie. He would have celebrated his 97thbirthday this month if he were still with us (died in 1995) and I’m sure he’d be pleased at the amazing progress that’s been made inDBSeven within the last decade.
Spot On Sciences, Inc, of course, owes a lot to Dr. Guthrie. He’s the one responsible for the collection of whole blood on specially designed filter paper, commonly known as “Guthrie cards.” He also developed the well known bacterial inhibition assay used to screen infants for phenylketonuria (known as PKU) at birth. This newborn screening program for PKU has been in place since the early 1960’s and is still being used around the world as a way to test for a number of treatable conditions.
Wikis and web-sources agree that Guthrie’s motivation for developing the Guthrie test was a personal one. He became interested in causes and prevention of mental retardation after his son, John, was born disabled in 1947. Later, when his niece was diagnosed with PKU he turned his attention to preventable causes.
Today,DBS continues to be used in newborn screening thanks, in large part, to major advances in technology that make it possible to screen for many conditions using only one test. In the U.S., a system of testing is in place that allows the majority of states to screen for over fifty conditions.
Thank you, Dr. Guthrie!