Premaitha chief hails pre-natal test trial outcome

THE chief executive of a Manchester biotech company which has pioneered a test for Down’s Syndrome in unborn children which reduces the risk of miscarriage has welcomed news it could soon be more widely available on the NHS.

Dr Stephen Little, CEO of Premaitha Health, was reacting to trials at Great Ormond Street Hospital, which suggested the new test – for fragments of foetal DNA in a mother’s blood – could be cost effective.

Premaitha has led the way in the development of its IONA non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT), and following the positive outcome of the trial, announced in the national media at the weekend, its introduction on mass scale now a step closer.

In fact, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, had already announced on June 1 that it would begin offering an in-house NIPT for pregnant women in the UK on the NHS.

The trust revealed in March that it was joining forces with Premaitha to take the new screening to St George’s. Dr Little said the hospital’s use of the IONA test was imminent.

“The tests that have been carried out by Prof (Lyn) Chitty at Great Ormond Street were absolutely appropriate,” said Dr Little.

“Overall it’s a very positive study as far as we are concerned. We are the only company to launch a regulated NIPT product, although it would be unrealistic not to expect competitors to emerge.”

The results of the trial at a conference in Glasgow shortly.