Philadelphia, PA, February 21, 2012 Using a noninvasive test on maternal blood that deploys a novel biochemical assay and a new algorithm for analysis, scientists can detect, with a high degree of accuracy, the risk that a fetus has the chromosomal abnormalities that cause Down syndrome and a genetic disorder known as Edwards syndrome. The new approach is more scalable than other recently developed genetic screening tests and has the potential to reduce unnecessary amniocentesis or CVS. Two studies evaluating this approach are available online in advance of publication in the April issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG).
Diagnosis of fetal chromosomal abnormalities, or aneuploidies, relies on invasive testing by chorionic villous sampling or amniocentesis in pregnancies identified as high-risk. Although accurate, the tests are expensive and carry a risk of miscarriage. A technique known as massively parallel shotgun sequencing (MPSS) that analyzes cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from the mother's plasma for fetal conditions has been used to detect trisomy 21 (T21) pregnancies, those with an extra copy of chromosome 21 that leads to Down syndrome, and trisomy 18 (T18), the chromosomal defect underlying Edwards syndrome. MPSS accurately identifies the conditions by analyzing the entire genome, but it requires a large amount of DNA sequencing, limiting its clinical usefulness.
Scientists at Aria Diagnostics in San Jose, CA developed a novel assay, Digital Analysis of Selected Regions (DANSR), which sequences loci from only the chromosomes under investigation. The assay requires 10 times less DNA sequencing than MPSS approaches.
In the current study, the researchers report on a novel statistical algorithm, the Fetal-fraction Optimized Risk of Trisomy Evaluation (FORTE), which considers age-related risks and the percentage of fetal DNA in the sample to provide an individualized risk score for trisomy. Explains a
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Elsevier Health Sciences