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Rapid, high throughput prenatal detection of aneuploidy using a novel quantitative method (MLPA)
  1. H R Slater1,
  2. D L Bruno1,
  3. H Ren1,
  4. M Pertile1,
  5. J P Schouten2,
  6. K H A Choo1
  1. 1Genetic Health Services, Victoria and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2MRC Holland, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr H R Slater
 Cytogenetics Laboratory, Genetic Health Services Victoria, MCRI, Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Vic 3052, Australia;

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Prenatal diagnosis of syndromes caused by chromosomal abnormality is a long established part of obstetric care in developed countries. In this area, there have been recent significant advances in the identification of high risk pregnancies using sophisticated serum analyte and ultrasound screening methods.1,2 For follow up diagnostic testing, karyotyping has provided the gold standard. This technology has remained essentially unchanged over 30 years, as no new technology has yet proven superior in terms of being able to detect such a wide range of abnormalities with the necessary precision. Nevertheless, molecular tests, such as fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) 3 and short tandem repeat analysis,4 are now in common practice for the diagnosis of specific abnormalities. These adjunctive tests importantly decrease turnaround times from 1–2 weeks to 1–2 days.

We assessed the performance of multiplex ligation dependent probe amplification (MLPA) as an alternative method for the detection of aneuploidy, which is by far the most common prenatal chromosome abnormality. This novel technique5 detects sequence dosage differences in a semi-quantitative manner and has many potential applications in diagnostic molecular genetics and cytogenetics. For example, a recent report describes its use for detection of large genomic deletions and duplications in the BRCA1 gene.6 This technology appears to have significant advantages in that it is extremely versatile in its applications, flexible in its target loci, highly automated, suitable for high throughput testing, efficient, and cost effective. Its application for aneuploidy detection has not been reported in a clinical setting. In order to assess the precision and robustness of the test, we conducted a prospective blind trial on 492 consecutive amniocentesis samples referred to our cytogenetics laboratory.


Study design

This study was designed to blind test amniocentesis samples prospectively. The samples were collected over a 4 month period as they were referred …

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