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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2006 Apr;19(4):199-207.

Sharpening the tools: a summary of a National Institutes of Health workshop on new technologies for detection of fetal cells in maternal blood for early prenatal diagnosis.

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Departments of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tufts-New England Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine, 750 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


In 2003 the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) sponsored a workshop entitled "Sharpening the Tools", which was designed to explore the then current state of prenatal diagnosis and screening using fetal cells in maternal blood. The goals of the workshop were to: review the then current state of the field and assess present capabilities, identify future research needs and challenges in this area, identify promising new and innovative approaches for future exploration, and provide a written summary of the conference for public distribution. The workshop featured brief presentations by experts from a wide range of scientific fields and by innovative bioengineering and technology leaders from academic centers and private industry. The workshop was divided into presentations on target cells, target approaches for separation, genetic and protein analysis, and "out of the box" (bioengineering) approaches. The passage of time since the workshop has allowed an objective assessment of where the research has progressed. A 2006 update on the field is included at the end of the summary.

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