Prenatal diagnosis using fetal cells from the maternal circulation.
Current prenatal diagnosis relies on invasive methods such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. Because these methods carry a low, but finite risk of pregnancy loss, noninvasive genetic screening techniques are the focus of intense research. Isolating fetal cells from maternal blood for genetic analysis is the least invasive method currently being investigated. We discuss the various methods that have been used to isolate these cells. Nucleated red blood cells have emerged as the ideal fetal cell type. This is because they have the DNA material necessary for genetic analysis, they are consistently present in maternal blood, they can be easily identified based on their morphology, and they have a definite gestational life span.
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