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News

Diagnostic technology featured in Clinical Chemistry uses serum from maternal whole blood

BTG : 05 October, 2006  (Company News)
BTG, the global technology commercialisation company, announced the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 covering its non-invasive method to evaluate foetal DNA in maternal blood samples. This technology has been demonstrated to accurately identify several inherited disorders, such as Down
“For the diagnosis of Down’s syndrome alone, amniocentesis currently represents a $400 million market despite its association with a two percent risk of miscarriage. This new method has the potential to become a safe and reliable alternative. Looking beyond that, we foresee applications in blood typing, detection of preeclampsia in the mother, and a broad range of emerging tests for genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anaemia.” said Antony Odell, Vice President and Manager of BTG’s Medical Device and Diagnostics Business Unit. “Grant of this critical patent is another demonstration of BTG’s unique ability to move important technologies from leading academic centres toward commercialisation.”

Discovered by scientists led by Dr. Y.M. Dennis Lo and Dr. James Wainscoat while both were at University of Oxford, the technology has been shown to detect foetal DNA and other genetic material (e.g. mRNA) from the mother’s plasma and serum. Specifically, the investigators were able to identify paternally-inherited alleles or gene sequences, expanding the range of genetic disorders that may be detected using this method.

An enhancement to the diagnostic potential of this technology was recently published in Clinical Chemistry. Dr. Lo was able to successfully detect maternally-inherited foetal DNA in maternal blood. This expands the ability to screen for genetic disorders beyond those inherited from the father.

“This new approach represents the first successful use of foetal epigenetic markers in a non-invasive test for prenatal disease screening,” commented Dennis Lo, now at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “With our increased understanding of the human genome, we expect that the number of such foetal markers will grow substantially over the next few years, thus expanding the test’s potential to identify additional inherited disorders and genetic characteristics.”
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