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Multiplicom Receives $250K Grant to Develop Genetic Fetal Aneuploidy Test

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Belgian molecular diagnostics firm Multiplicom today said it has been awarded €200,000 ($250,000) to develop a blood-based non-invasive fetal aneuploidy test.

The grant from the Flemish agency for Innovation by Science and Technology will be used by Multiplicom to develop the test based on its Multiplex Amplification of Specific Targets for Resequencing workflow. The PCR-based test detects copy number variations in chromosomes 21, 18, 13, X and Y in fetal DNA isolated from the mother's blood.

The company said that its goal is to replace the 250,000 invasive procedures such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling performed each year in Europe. Validation of the test will be conducted in collaboration with hospitals throughout Europe, and Multiplicom plans to make the test available to all accredited genetic laboratories.

Multiplicom CEO Dirk Pollet said in a statement that the funding allows the firm to develop a new assay "that will help physicians and patients enhance prenatal medical care while cutting costs. In the future, we see this test entirely replacing current invasive techniques."

Multiplicom seeks to join a fast-growing segment of the genetic testing space. Several other firms who have either launched or plan to launch non-invasive tests directed at fetal aneuploidies include Sequenom which launched its MaterniT21 test in October, and more recently, Ariosa Diagnostics and Verinata Health who have also begun commercializing their tests.

LifeCodexx, which is licensing intellectual property from Sequenom, is preparing a summer launch for its T21 test in German-speaking nations in Europe, while Natera expects to launch its test later this year.

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