Sequenom, Others Spotlighted in Wired Story on Fetal DNA Blood Tests


Sequenom and two other IVD companies offering cell-free fetal DNA lab tests are spotlighted in a feature story published in the January 2013 issue of Wired. San Diego–based Sequenom receives most of the ink in “Early Warning System,” Erin Biba’s article about the October 2011 commercial introduction of “a simple blood test” to look for abnormalities 10 weeks into a pregnancy that could lead to miscarriages or possible birth defects. Cell-free tests made by Verinata Health and Ariosa Diagnostics are also covered, as Biba cites estimates from Frost & Sullivan that the market for prenatal testing will grow from $1.3 billion in 2010 to $1.6 billion by 2017.
Biba begins her article with an anecdote about a 32-year-old attorney and mother who experienced two subsequent miscarriages. She delivered a healthy daughter during her first pregnancy, but she learned during the successful pregnancy that her grandmother had given birth to a baby with Down syndrome. Pregnant a fourth time, the woman heard about the new test from her doctor, and she became one of the first in her physician’s practice to have what is considered an accurate and lower-risk alternative to amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS). After about one week the results revealed that her baby had Down syndrome, and the woman and her husband decided to terminate the pregnancy at 12½ weeks, Biba says.
A short sidebar examines cell-free fetal DNA testing as well as amniocentesis, CVS, ultrasound, and multiple-market screening tests. Sequenom is the first company to offer the fetal DNA blood test, notes Biba, who describes a visit to the company’s “dull office park headquarters” housing “millions of dollars’ worth of next-generation genetic sequencers. It may look dull, but this was the first testing lab in the U.S. to use sequencers in a large-scale, high-throughput prenatal test.” Labs that perform cell-free fetal DNA testing can look forward to “a financial windfall,” Biba writes.
Readers of IVDT can review our extensive coverage of Sequenom, Verinata Health, Ariosa Diagnostics, and the legal maneuvering that has surrounded development of the prenatal test here on our website.
The Wired story is here.
---John Conroy