Pre-natal diagnosis - a safer method
This research was completed on 2 January 2003
|Project Leader||Professor 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.|
|Location||Department of Maternal & Fetal Medicine, ICSM, Queen Charlotte's Hospital, London in conjunction with the Department of Haematology, ICSM, Hammersmith Hospital, London.|
|Grant awarded||13 July 2000|
|Start date||3 January 2001|
|End date||2 January 2003|
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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.