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A Micromachined Sparse Cell Isolation Device: Application in Prenatal Diagnostics

H. Mohamed, J.N. Turner and M. Caggana
Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, US

prenatal diagnosis, biochip, cell sorting, fetal cells

The isolation of fetal cells from maternal circulation is the subject of intense research. Fetal cells can be isolated using several enrichment methods, however no technique to specifically isolate and use them for genetic diagnosis has reached clinical practice. Thus, prenatal diagnosis currently requires invasive procedures. A micromachined device to fractionate whole blood using physical means to enrich for and/or isolate rare cell types from peripheral circulation was designed. It has arrays of four successively narrower channels, each consisting of a 2-D array of columns. Current devices have channels ranging in width from 20mm-2.5mm, and in depth from 20mm-5mm. We have several optimizations of the device for use to isolate different cell types.
Fetal nucleated red blood cells were isolated from cord blood reproducibly and molecular analysis confirmed their fetal origin without contamination from maternal DNA.
Future studies will provide non-invasive methods to detect fetal cells using a non-invasive approach, the risk for fetal loss will be eliminated, and costs will be decreased. This type of testing to assess the genetic status of the fetus can be made available to the entire pregnant population, significantly improving accessibility.

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