Safer Pre-natal diagnosis | Action Medical Research | Children's Charity | Children's Charity

Pre-natal diagnosis - a safer method

This research was completed on 2 January 2003

Project LeaderProfessor N M Fisk PhD, FRCOG, FRACOG, DDU, Dr C Campagnoli MD, Dr I A G Roberts MD, FRCP, FRCPath, DRCOG and Professor P R Bennett BSc, PhD, MD, MRCOG.
LocationDepartment of Maternal & Fetal Medicine, ICSM, Queen Charlotte's Hospital, London in conjunction with the Department of Haematology, ICSM, Hammersmith Hospital, London.
Grant awarded13 July 2000
Start date3 January 2001
End date2 January 2003
Grant amount£97,861.00
Grant codeSP3637

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The pre-natal diagnosis of genetic problems currently involves the insertion of a needle inside the womb -- a procedure which is associated with a risk of miscarriage. To avoid this a sample of the mother's blood can be analysed, since this usually contains a small number of fetal cells. However, to date it has been impossible to identify these clearly because all fetal cell types are also found in the mother's own blood. This team has discovered a primitive cell which is only present in fetal blood, and they are now developing a method for selecting out and then expanding these cells into pure fetal DNA. The success of this procedure may introduce pre-natal testing for genetic and chromosome abnormalities which will avoid the risk of miscarriages and may assist with early treatments to reduce or prevent disability.

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