Single-tube PCR assay is based on company’s MASTR technology.

Belgian molecular diagnostics firm Multiplicom won a €200,000 ($260,000) grant to support development of a maternal blood test for fetal genetic abnormalities caused by chromosomal aneuploidies. Based on the firm’s MASTR (multiplex amplification of specific targets for resequencing) technology, the noninvasive aneuploidy test (NIAT) is a single tube multiplex PCR assay that can identify copy number variations of chromosomes 21, 18, 13, X, and Y. Multiplicom says the assay could feasibly replace 250,000 or so amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling procedures carried out every year in Europe alone.

Multiplicom was established last year as a spin-out of the University of Antwerp, and VIB, to focus on developing genetic test kits based on massively parallel sequencing. Last month the firm announced a collaboration with ICM (Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle epinière) and ICAN (Institute of Cardiométabolisme And Nutrition) focused on the development of tests for identifying genetic predisposition to cardiovascular, metabolic, and neurological diseases. ICAN and ICM are two Hospital-University Institutes (IHU) at Hôpital Pitié Salpêtrière in Paris that are specialized in cardiovascular and metabolic, and neurological diseases, respectively.

The partners will initially focus on an early-onset diabetes test but aim to develop and validate diagnostic tests for identifying other disease-related mutations. Multiplicom will be responsible for the commercialization of the resulting products.

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