August 10, 2011

Genetic Analysis to Monitor Fetus

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ A new genetic analysis could be used to monitor fetal development; allowing clinicians to determine very early in pregnancy if fetal organ systems are developing normally. Using special technology researchers have established the likelihood of focused fetal gene expression analysis of target genes found in amniotic fluid.

Using Standardized NanoArray PCR (SNAP) technology, investigators determined that 7 of the 21 genes tested were expressed differently depending on fetal sex or gestational age. Results were obtained from amniotic fluid supernatant samples from fetuses between 15 to 20 weeks of development, when standard amniotic fluid testing is performed.

"In the future, fetal gene expression panels could prove useful in prenatal care to evaluate function in cases of at-risk pregnancies and fetal pathologies," Lauren J. Massingham, M.D., Division of Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, and lead investigator, was quoted saying.

"Some genes in the current panel may prove to be useful components of a fetal gene expression panel. Future studies are warranted to identify additional genes to be incorporated, including inflammatory, developmental, and gastrointestinal genes. This technique could be optimized to examine specific genes instrumental in fetal organ system function, which could be a useful addition to prenatal care," Dr. Massingham said.

SNAP technology allows for the simultaneous assessment of tens to hundreds of genes from reduced and degraded nucleic acid samples, overcoming concerns of processing primary human samples. Gene expression that varies by up to five orders of magnitude can be quantified using a single assay.

SOURCE: Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, August 9, 2011.