Using fetal cells for prenatal diagnosis: History and recent progress.

The potential to use fetal cells in the mother’s circulation during the first or second trimester for prenatal diagnosis was described in 1968, but it has not been possible do develop a routine clinical prenatal test despite extensive commercial and academic research efforts. Early attention focused on the detection of aneuploidy, but more recent technology opens the possibility of high resolution detection of copy number abnormalities and even whole genome or exome sequencing to detect both inherited and de novo mutations. In the interim, cell-free noninvasive prenatal testing NIPT has allowed improved detection of aneuploidy, but this has led to a sharp reduction in the number of amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) procedures, which inevitably implies reduced detection of serious de novo deletion abnormalities. Attention has focused of both fetal nucleated red blood cells (fnRBCs) and trophoblasts. Recent progress presented at meetings, but not yet published, suggests that it will soon be possible to perform genome-wide relatively high resolution detection of deletions and duplications by recovering fetal trophoblasts during the first trimester and analyzing them by whole gene genome amplification followed by copy number analysis using arrays or next generation sequencing. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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