There’s A Safer Way To Test Developing Fetuses For Genetic Disorders: Here’s How

There's A Safer Way To Test Developing Fetuses For Genetic Disorders: Here's How

Currently, the only way to diagnose genetic disorders in developing fetuses is carrying out amniocentesis sampling the chorionic villus for retrieving trophoblasts, both risky procedures that lead to a miscarriage. Trophoblasts are layering tissues that form the major part of the placenta in the later stages of pregnancy. However, they are only present in feeble quantities during the early gestation months, which makes them difficult to detect. Also, the procedure poses risks for the mother and can even lead to a miscarriage.

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Scientists have now developed a simple technique that involves collecting placental cells from the cervical canals by mean of swabs, instead of drawing the amniotic fluid from the uterus. These are called cervical swabs. This way, testing fetuses for genetic disorders becomes a lot easier and less invasive.

Researchers from Brown University in Rhode Island, United States found a way to perfectly separate cervical cells from the mucus by studying the peculiar characteristics of trophoblasts that make them stand out from other cervical cells and materials. They found that trophoblasts are smaller with larger nuclei as compared to cervical cells. Due to these characteristics, they may settle more quickly than cervical cells, when cell mixtures are placed on microwell plates.

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The study showed that scientists were able to separate the two in just four minutes. Using this technique, scientists could sample 700 per cent more trophoblasts and could easily pick out individual trophoblasts for genetic testing. The procedure could be easily conducted without any specialized diagnostic equipments.

Trophoblasts carrying the fetal genome then can be screened optimally, with no risk to the mother or the fetus. Biomedical engineer at Brown University and study author, Anibhav Tripathi told Technology Networks, “This is the first study to use cell settling for enriching trophoblast cells from a heterogeneous cervical cell population,” the researchers write. “Ultimately, we provide a technique that is quick, inexpensive, minimizes cell loss, and results in the retrieval of individual trophoblast cells.”

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