New Technology can help doctors monitor an early fetal organ system’s development by using a small sample of amniotic fluid.

Using Standardized NanoArray PCR (SNAP) Technology, doctors combine several multi-gene tests into a simple and easy to use tool to accelerate and to control Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) of genetic samples.

PCR is a method to analyze a short sample of DNA or RNA amplifying specific sections of DNA or RNA. Previous methods used cloning which took weeks, but with the PCR it takes few hours. Multiple copies of DNA/RNA can be made by simplifying the workflow and reducing the quantity of test samples.

The new analysis using Standardized NanoArray PCR (SNAP) Technology enables doctors to determine at early stage in pregnancy if the fetal organ systems are developing normally. This analysis can enable doctors to monitor fetal development. The study was published in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.

Using the SNAP gene panel for determining genes in bacteria and viruses as proof, researchers determined that 7 of the 21 genes expressed differently depending on fetal sex or gestational age. Results were obtained from the sample floating in the liquid above the surface culture of the amniotic fluid taken between 15 to 20 weeks of gestation.

"In the future, fetal gene expression panels could prove useful in prenatal care to evaluate function in cases of at-risk pregnancies and fetal pathologies," commented lead investigator Lauren J. Massingham, MD, Division of Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts. According to the investigators, further studies using this gene panel approach could elucidate the complex immune pathways involved in the maternal-fetal relationship.