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A*STAR's IME, Inex Collaborate on NIPT Development

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Singapore's A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME) and molecular diagnostic firm Inex Innovations announced today a collaboration to develop a non-invasive prenatal diagnostic technology based on IME's microfabrication expertise and Inex's translational research capabilities. 

The partners will leverage IME's rare cell isolation technology, a microchip containing a microfabricated filter membrane to isolate and enrich fetal cells found in maternal blood. IME's microfluidic chip enables its microfabricated filter to deplete more than 99.9 percent of non-target cells in a blood sample, while capturing fetal cells with a recovery rate of about 85 percent, IME said. 

Additionally, the technology can result in less target-cell loss compared to other methods that separate or remove non-target cells via mechanical centrifugation or chemical cell lysis steps. IME said that only a few milliliters of blood from an expectant mother is needed to generate test results. 

IME said in a statement that its method overcomes the challenge of isolating rare fetal cells to produce "high-purity sample for clinical downstream molecular analysis of aneuploidies or chromosomal abnormalities, and identification of various genetic disorders." 

It noted that procedures such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling are reliable but carry a risk of pregnancy loss in up to 5 percent of pregnancies.