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Severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related)

People who are affected by severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) have a weakened immune system and are prone to infection by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Because of their weakened immune-system response, these infections are often life-threatening. There are many genes that can cause SCID, one of these is RAG2.

Babies with SCID usually present with chronic diarrhoea, skin rashes, and poor growth (failure to thrive). Individuals with atypical, (also known as “leaky”) SCID may have less serious symptoms. Early treatment is necessary for all individuals with SCID. If immune function is not restored early in life, sadly children with SCID will often die in childhood.

Quick facts about severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related)
Genes: RAG2
Inheritance: Autosomal Recessive
Relevant resources for severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related)

A quick genetics rundown

As humans we have about 23,000 genes. These genes are like tiny instruction manuals that influence our health, growth and development. We inherit half of our genes from our biological mum and the other half from our biological dad. These genes are lined up on structures called chromosomes. Most of us have 23 pairs of chromosomes. The first 22 pairs are called autosomes and for the most part - these are the same among men and women. The 23rd pair determine our sex - two X chromosomes for a female and one X and one Y chromosome for males.

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How is severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related) inherited?

severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related) is known as an autosomal recessive condition. For autosomal recessive conditions, if a person has a variation in one copy of their gene, they are a carrier. This means that they are healthy because they also have a working copy of the gene. But, they can still pass their non-working copy to their child.

If the other parent also happens to be a carrier of the same gene, there is a 25% (1 in 4) chance that they both pass this gene variation on to their child — and as such, have a child affected by the disease.

If both parents are carriers of severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related), there's a one in four chance that their children could develop symptoms.

What is carrier screening?

Carrier testing is like a checkup for your genes. It tests to see if you carry a gene variation that could cause a serious genetic disease in your child. Eugene offers an inclusive genetic carrier screening panel that includes severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related), but there's a total 301 conditions that can be tested.

Eugene's carrier test is a clinical grade test that can be done from the comfort of your own home — it's just a saliva test. You're also paired with a genetic counsellor who provides mindful support and guidance every step of the way.

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Should parents screen for severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related) before or early in pregnancy?

The biggest benefit of screening for severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related) is that it can help future parents understand their reproductive risk so they can be ready and empowered to make more informed decisions. If neither partner are carriers, it provides reassurance and peace of mind that the risk of having a child with a genetic disease is low.

Since 90% of children that have a recessive genetic disease like severe combined immunodeficiency/Omenn syndrome (RAG2-related) had no previous family history of it, it often feels completely out of the blue for the parents. Getting screened is a way to know this risk in advance, which can help familes manage or even prevent the disease in the first place.