BENGALURU: A simple test that screens for genetic abnormalities in fetuses is now available in India.
Natera’s test, also known as Panorama, is non-invasive and uses blood drawn from the mother to screen for genetic diseases in fetuses. It can test for Down’s, Edward’s and Patau syndromes and also for sex chromosome abnormalities such as Turner syndrome.
MedGenome, the company which offers the Panorama test, claims it is the only screening test in the world that detects triploidy, a rare chromosomal disorder. It also can determine whether a “vanishing twin” was present, that is if there was a twin that got absorbed and is no longer detectable by ultrasound.
Panorama can be performed from as early as 9 weeks of pregnancy. In contrast to traditional prenatal genetic testing which is invasive and can harm the fetus, Panorama does not pose any risk to the unborn baby. MedGenome says that in accordance with Indian law, Panorama will not be used to reveal the sex of the fetus.
The company will also carry out a research study involving 1,000 women at high risk for giving birth to babies with chromosomal disease, for whom the test will be provided free of cost, starting from 11 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Prominent fetal medicine specialists and obstetricians from all over India will be involved in the study which will be led by Dr I C Verma, director, Centre of Medical Genetics, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi. The study will help frame guidelines for use of the test in India and check for ethnicity-related factors influencing fetal diseases.