Fetal Cells and Fetal DNA in Maternal Blood
Is noninvasive, risk-free prenatal diagnosis of fetal genetic characteristics still a fantasy, or will it soon become reality? The current status of both the leading European research groups as well as the NIH-funded NIFTY study are reported here, indicating that certain fetal genetic traits can now be examined efficiently in a noninvasive manner. Considerable focus is placed on new laser-mediated systems for the effective micro-manipulation of single fetal cells, as well as their analysis by single-cell PCR and the pitfalls to avoid when performing such analyses. Other issues addressed in depth include: novel enrichment techniques, optimal fetal cell recognition, fetal cell culture, as well as the exciting finding that fetal cell traffic is elevated in certain pregnancy-related disorders, most prominently in preeclampsia. This publication is of interest to researchers in the field, genetic counsellors, gynecologists and obstetricians, and researchers in microchimerism, transplantation and transfusion medicine.