DETROIT Wayne State University researchers are testing a way to determine the status of fetal chromosomes that could lead to healthier outcomes for mothers and their babies.
Supported by a two-year, $418,000 exploratory/developmental grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, the researchers will capture human fetal cells for genetic study within the first two months of pregnancy using a newly developed, safe, noninvasive retrieval technique similar to a Pap test.
D. Randall Armant, Ph.D., and Michael P. Diamond, M.D., professors of obstetrics and gynecology in Wayne State's School of Medicine, are the principal investigators of the study. Susan Land, Ph.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, is a co-investigator.
Titled "Genetic Analysis of Human First Trimester Trophoblast in Ongoing Pregnancies," the project targets cells called trophoblasts, which surround the blastocyst, a cluster of cells that results from successful fertilization. Researchers are particularly interested in "invasive" trophoblasts, which attach the blastocyst to the uterine wall; the cells become the placenta and the membranes that nourish and protect the developing organism.
Such cells carry genetic material from the fetus. Armant's team will gather them through transcervical sampling, a method that uses a cytobrush inserted into the cervix. Researchers believe the technique is less intrusive than previously used methods, yields intact fetal cells and can be done as early as six to 12 weeks; doctors typically must wait 10 to 14 weeks to use other methods, which can carry more risk to mothers and fetuses.
"The earlier you get the information, the more time the doctor has to manage whatever problems are coming up during or after the mother's pregnancy," Armant said. "It also gives the parents more time to make decisions about the pregnancy.
|Contact: Julie O'Connor|
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research