A new class of nanoVelcro microchips were prepared with a nano-imprinting fabrication process, which made them more reproducible and faster to make than the previous chips. The device provides sensitive results via a blood test, which is less invasive than currently used methods.
Current prenatal tests, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling are accurate, but are also invasive and increase the risk of a miscarriage. Some less invasive tests that could be safer are in development but require genetic material is typically found in short pieces and in very small quantities.
Whole fetal cells containing entire genomes also circulate in a mother’s blood. These rare, fragile cells could provide a wealth of information about a fetus’ health, but so far, no method is ideal for capturing them. To specifically capture the fetal cells, the team attached an antibody to a marker on the cells’ surface. When they tested the blood of 15 pregnant women, they found that the method could enrich for fetal cells. It also accurately determined the sexes of the fetuses, as well as genetic conditions that were previously diagnosed by other methods in nine of the fetuses.