NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - Fluidigm said today that it has taken co-exclusive licenses to intellectual property developed at Stanford University for detecting fetal genetic characteristics in maternal plasma, including the use of a combination of digital PCR and high-throughput sequencing for that application.
The licenses cover a technique published by Stanford’s Stephen Quake and colleagues in October that used high-throughput sequencing to detect trace amounts of fetal DNA in a pregnant woman's blood to determine whether any chromosomes are over-represented. The researchers believe this non-invasive technique can provide a much earlier and safer diagnosis for fetal aneuploidy than current invasive testing procedures such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling.
Specifically, the licenses cover Stanford inventions relating to noninvasive fetal genetic screening by digital analysis, noninvasive diagnosis of fetal aneuploidy by sequencing; and digital PCR for rapid prenatal diagnosis of fetal aneuploidy.
In the study published by Quake and colleagues in October, the researchers used Fluidigm's BioMark Digital Array digital PCR technology to count individual molecules and “set the exact parameters for sequencing steps that helped determine the amounts of critical fetal DNA,” Fluidigm said in a statement.
Quake is a co-founder of Fluidigm and the chair of the company's scientific advisory board.
Sequenom is also developing methodologies for noninvasive fetal genetic screening, including methods based on sequencing and digital PCR. The company has published several papers describing its approach, including two studies in PNAS that were published online last week and this week.