May 13, 2005

Nancy Lawrence
Corporate Communications & Public Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 77642

Family workshop focusing on metabolic disorders being held at London Health Sciences Centre

(LONDON, Ontario) - On Friday, May 13, more than 100 people are expected to attend a Metabolic Family Workshop at London Health Sciences Centre.

Dr. Tony Rupar, Medical Leader, Molecular Pathology, Director of Biochemical Genetics, CPRI, will be the featured speaker at 1 p.m. in the 7th Floor Amphitheatre in the Westminster Tower, Victoria Campus (Wellington and Commissioner Road). Media are invited to attend Dr. Rupar's presentation.

"Newborn screening for inherited and congenital metabolic disorders has been a major accomplishment of public health systems. The province of Ontario has screened all newborn for phenylketonuria (PKU) since 1965 and screening for congenital hypothyroidism was added in 1978" says Dr. Rupar.

"The newborn screening program has been a successful cost-effective public health program co-ordinated with the public health laboratory. All infants in southwestern Ontario identified with PKU through newborn screening are treated through the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario at LHSC," adds Dr. Rupar.

PKU is an inherited disorder of body chemistry that, if untreated, causes severe developmental delay and total life-long dependence on others for care. Fortunately, through routine newborn screening, affected newborns are diagnosed and treated early, allowing them to grown up with normal intelligence.

Ontario's screening program has prevented about 1300 children born in the province since 1980 from the consequences of PKU and congenital hypothyroidism.

Dr. Rupar will also discuss a relatively new technology, tandem mass spectrometry (TMS), which has been introduced to newborn screening programs in many jurisdictions in the past few years. TMS enables the screening of about 25 inborn errors of metabolism and has improved the specificity and sensitivity of testing for PKU. He believes the challenge is to now review and update the Ontario newborn screening program.

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is one of Canada's largest acute-care teaching hospitals and is dedicated to excellence in patient care, teaching and research. LHSC has pioneered many national and international medical breakthroughs. Located in London, Ontario, LHSC has three sites - University Campus, Victoria Campus, and the South Street Site, along with two family medical centres and the London Regional Cancer Program. LHSC is the home of the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario and CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics). The research arm of LHSC is Lawson Health Research Institute, which is also partnered with London's other teaching hospital, St. Joseph's Health Care, London. LHSC is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. Physicians and staff at LHSC number close to 8,000 and together they provide care for more than 600,000 patients each year.