Technology to analyse tiny traces of DNA is now so sensitive that it can diagnose disease by detecting rogue mutations circulating in human blood. The most important future application of “cell-free DNA diagnosis”, as it is called, is likely to be in oncology — detecting cancer genes shed by tumours elsewhere in the body — but an early commercial use of the technique is in prenatal diagnosis of genetic disorders in the foetus.
Premaitha Health, based in Manchester, is the first European company to offer non-invasive prenatal testing of this sort. The test is much more accurate than the current technique, which requires sampling of foetal DNA from the womb or placenta, and which produces many false positive results.
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