Abstract: Down’s syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic cause of developmental delay with an incidence of 1 in 800 live births, and is the predominant reason why women choose to undergo invasive prenatal diagnosis. However, as invasive tests are associated with around a 1% risk of miscarriage new non-invasive tests have been long sought after. Recently, the most promising approach for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) has been provided by the introduction of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. The clinical application of NIPD for DS detection is not yet applicable, as large scale validation studies in low-risk pregnancies need to be completed. Currently, prenatal screening is still the first line test for the detection of fetal aneuploidy. Screening cannot diagnose DS, but developing a more advanced screening program can help to improve detection rates, and therefore reduce the number of women offered invasive tests. This article describes how the prenatal screening program has developed since the introduction of maternal age as the original “screening” test, and subsequently discusses recent advances in detecting new screening markers with reference to both proteomic and bioinformatic techniques.
Abstract: Since the discovery of the presence of fetal DNA in maternal blood, non-invasive fetal sex determination has been the test most widely translated into clinical practice. To date there is no agreement between the different laboratories performing such tests in relation to which is the best protocol. As a consequence there are almost as many protocols as laboratories offering the service, using different methodologies and thus obtaining different diagnostic accuracies. By the end of 2007, after a validation study performed in 316 maternal samples collected between the 5th and 12th week of gestation, the fetal sex determination was incorporated into clinical practice in our Service. The test is performed in the first trimester of pregnancy, and it is offered as part of the genetic counseling process for couples at risk of X-linked disorders. As a general rule and in order to avoid misdiagnosis, two samples at different gestational ages are tested per patient. The analysis is performed by the study of the SRY gene by RT-PCR. Two hundred and twenty six pregnancies have been tested so far in these 5 years. Neither false positives nor false negatives diagnoses have been registered, thus giving a diagnostic accuracy of 100%.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of a semiautomatic segmentation method for the anatomical and functional assessment of both ventricles from cardiac cine magnetic resonance (MR) examinations, reducing user interaction to a “mouse-click”. Fifty-two patients with cardiovascular diseases were examined using a 1.5-T MR imaging unit. Several parameters of both ventricles, such as end-diastolic volume (EDV), end-systolic volume (ESV) and ejection fraction (EF), were quantified by an experienced operator using the conventional method based on manually-defined contours, as the standard of reference; and a novel semiautomatic segmentation method based on edge detection, iterative thresholding and region growing techniques, for evaluation purposes. No statistically significant differences were found between the two measurement values obtained for each parameter (p > 0.05). Correlation to estimate right ventricular function was good (r > 0.8) and turned out to be excellent (r > 0.9) for the left ventricle (LV). Bland-Altman plots revealed acceptable limits of agreement between the two methods (95%). Our study findings indicate that the proposed technique allows a fast and accurate assessment of both ventricles. However, further improvements are needed to equal results achieved for the right ventricle (RV) using the conventional methodology.
Abstract: Computed Tomography (CT) Perfusion is an evolving method to visualize perfusion in organs and tissue. With the introduction of multidetector CT scanners, it is now possible to cover up to 16 cm in one rotation, and thereby making it possible to scan entire organs such as the liver with a fixed table position. Advances in reconstruction algorithms make it possible to reduce the radiation dose for each examination to acceptable levels. Regarding abdominal imaging, CT perfusion is still considered a research tool, but several studies have proven it as a reliable non-invasive technique for assessment of vascularity. CT perfusion has also been used for tumor characterization, staging of disease, response evaluation of newer drugs targeted towards angiogenesis and as a method for early detection of recurrence after radiation and embolization. There are several software solutions available on the market today based on different perfusion algorithms. However, there is no consensus on which protocol and algorithm to use for specific organs. In this article, the authors give an introduction to CT perfusion in abdominal imaging introducing technical aspects for calculation of perfusion parameters, and considerations on patient preparation. This article also contains clinical cases to illustrate the use of CT perfusion in abdominal imaging.
Abstract: This paper describes a rapid, high-throughput flow-through membrane immunoassay (FMIA) platform. A nitrocellulose membrane was spotted in an array format with multiple capture and control reagents for each sample detection area, and assay steps were carried out by sequential aspiration of sample and reagents through each detection area using a 96-well vacuum manifold. The FMIA provides an alternate assay format with several advantages over ELISA. The high surface area of the membrane permits high label concentration using gold labels, and the small pores and vacuum control provide rapid diffusion to reduce total assay time to ~30 min. All reagents used in the FMIA are compatible with dry storage without refrigeration. The results appear as colored spots on the membrane that can be quantified using a flatbed scanner. We demonstrate the platform for detection of IgM specific to lipopolysaccharides (LPS) derived from Salmonella Typhi. The FMIA format provides analytical results comparable to ELISA in less time, provides integrated assay controls, and allows compensation for specimen-to-specimen variability in background, which is a particular challenge for IgM assays.
Abstract: Background: Coronary artery involvement is seen in approximately 15–20% of children with Kawasaki disease. There is conflicting literature regarding the clinical and laboratory findings associated with coronary artery involvement. In this retrospective study, we attempt identification of predictive factors for coronary artery involvement at our institute and review the existing literature. Methods and results: A review of 203 patients (65% males) with Kawasaki disease was performed, of whom 33 (16.3%) had coronary artery involvement. High erythrocyte sedimentation rate, high platelet count, low hematocrit, low albumin levels, and refractory Kawasaki disease showed significant association with coronary artery involvement. High erythrocyte sedimentation rate and refractory Kawasaki disease were found to be independent predictors of coronary artery involvement. Review of literature suggested a wide range of coronary involvement (<5% to >60%), and highly conflicting clinical and laboratory associations. Conclusion: It remains difficult to accurately determine risk of coronary artery involvement, although some laboratory markers may provide information that is helpful for parental counseling and clinical follow up. Future identification of novel biomarkers and host predispositions may further our understanding of coronary artery risks and help personalize therapy for Kawasaki disease.