Cellular Research, a Bay Area company established a year ago by the cofounders of Affymetrix and Fluidigm, has received federal funding to develop a non-invasive test for detecting Down syndrome in prenatal samples using a new array-based DNA molecule counting approach.

According to the abstract of the $360,000 National Institutes of Health grant, Cellular Research aims to develop a "faster and cheaper single-molecule counting system" that will rival a non-invasive massively parallel sequencing test to detect trisomy 21 in fetal DNA present in maternal plasma.

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