Researchers from Hong Kong report that they have found a potential new way to differentiate the mother’s and the fetus’s DNA in a maternal blood plasma sample. This new finding may lead to a maternal blood test that could reveal health problems in an unborn child.
Only about 3 percent of DNA in maternal blood plasma comes from the fetus. What the scientists need to figure out is how to realize what came from the fetus and what came from the mother.
In the new study, the team reports that they can differentiate maternal from fetal DNA by looking for a specific gene that acts differently in mothers and fetuses.
At the beginning of this year researchers reported that they were able to more easily analyze fetal DNA by boosting its levels in blood samples. Scientists have also found a way to separate bits of maternal and fetal DNA by analyzing their size.
It is still not possible to predict how long it will take for the findings to translate into a routine fetal DNA screening test available for usage. However, the research shows promise. It's not yet known if the tests will help pick up diseases like Down syndrome, but researchers are hopeful.