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The NIPT Trend

A number of companies now offer non-invasive prenatal tests that can, by isolating fetal DNA from the mother's bloodstream, determine if the fetus has a chromosomal disorder. And, as Fortune's Clay Dillow writes, those tests may soon be able to detect even more disorders. "[I]f parents could know more about their child's health before birth, wouldn't they want to?" he adds.

However, it's not the science that is holding the adoption of such tests back — it's the cost, he writes.

"Whether or not prenatal genetic testing becomes standard, it's certainly possible, but they're going to have to get the price point down lower than it is right now," Les Funtleyder, a health care strategist at the investment firm Poliwogg, tells Dillow. "Managed care companies aren't rushing toward new places to spend money. If the companies in question can make the case that by doing this you're somehow improving quality or cutting costs, they could become part of standard care. But if they're adding cost onto the price of pregnancy, it won't be received enthusiastically."

Still, executives from NIPT companies are optimistic that their tests will soon become routine, possibly driven by their ability to pick up deletion syndromes, as Matt Rabinowitz, the CEO of Natera, expects.

Verinata's vice president of research and development, Richard Rava, adds that the ability to interpret findings will only improve, noting that until a few years ago, the deletions behind deletions syndromes were considered to be of unknown clinical significance.

"There are things that are pointless to learn about right now, but in the future they very well might become relevant as therapies," Rava says.

The Scan

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