Kaiser Permanente molecular genetic pathology lab adopts non-invasive test

Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California Molecular Genetic Pathology Regional Reference Laboratory improved the lives of pregnant women substantially when it brought a non-invasive prenatal test in house that is based on analyzing Cell Free DNA (cfDNA) in blood samples.

Bringing testing capability in-house reduced the turnaround time from seven to 10 days to two to three days and saves Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California region $1 million annually in external lab costs.

The test is used to screen fetuses for Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome (Trisomy 18) and Patau syndrome (Trisomy 13). It also can determine fetal sex. The test, which can be performed as early as 10 weeks gestation, is generally safer than chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, which both carry a slight risk for miscarriage.

The molecular genetic pathology lab conducts the tests using next-generation sequencing (NGS) on the Illumina platform. Normal test results are routed to patients through the KP.org patient portal while abnormal results are sent to genetic counselors.

The program has been so successful that Kaiser Permanente is evaluating whether to expand it to other regions in the organization.

McSkane and McLaren also sent a nomination letter to MLO’s Lab Innovators Worth Watching for this project, naming Ruan Ramjit MD, Physician Director; Mike Moradian, PhD, Director of Operations; and Anatole Ghazalpour, PhD, Technical Director.


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