Sequenom has announced plans to bring a new and more affordable form of non-invasive prenatal test for aneuploidy to the market.
The company owns an intellectual property portfolio arising from the work of Dennis Lo, who was first to discover and exploit fetal DNA in maternal blood for diagnostic purposes.
Sequenom already sells the MaterniT21 Plus test for high-risk pregnancies (older women and those with a previous history of chromosomal abnormality or screening test results that suggest increased risk), which tests for various aneuploidies including Down’s syndrome (trisomy 21) and a small number of specific microdeletions such as DiGeorge and Cri-du-chat syndromes. It sells for around $2,700.
However, this week the company announced that they were also planning to market a much cheaper non-invasive prenatal test intended for low-risk pregnancies, using a different technological platform and likely to cost closer to $300. They intend to complete clinical validation by the end of the year; the new test will be aimed at international as well as US customers.
How accurate this new test will prove to be (and how quickly it will actually reach the market) remains to be seen, but if it did offer a fairly high diagnostic accuracy at a low price then it would probably be highly popular among pregnant women, especially those for whom the MaterniT21 and rival offerings are too expensive.