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Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) to date is used in the clinic primarily to detect foetal aneuploidy. Few studies so far have focused on the detection of monogenic autosomal recessive disorders where mother and foetus carry the same mutation. In particular, NIPT is currently not available for the detection of Sickle Cell Anaemia (SCA), the most common monogenic disorder world-wide and the most common indication for invasive prenatal testing in high-income countries. Here, we report the clinical validation of a novel diagnostic approach that combines ultra-sensitive amplicon-based sequencing of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) with internal controls and bias factor correction to calculate the probability for the presence of allelic imbalance from maternal plasma without prior knowledge of the paternal genotype. Identification of the foetal genotype was determined using a hierarchical probabilistic model based on the relative number of reads from the sequencing, along with the foetal fraction. NIPT was performed on a cohort of 57 patients, all of whom had previously undergone invasive prenatal testing so that the foetal genotype was known. Overall, NIPT demonstrated 100% sensitivity and negative predictive value for foetal fractions higher than 0.5%, and 100% specificity and positive predictive value for foetal fractions higher than or equal to 4%. Our methodology can be used as a safe, non-invasive screening tool in any clinical scenarios where early prenatal diagnosis of SCA or other recessive disorders is important.

Original publication




Working paper


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Publication Date