Natera expands prenatal test amid global push

Natera CEO Matthew Rabinowitz

Diagnostics outfit Natera is spreading its noninvasive prenatal test around the world, and now the company has expanded its diagnostic to detect triploidy, a chromosomal abnormality that results in miscarriage or stillbirth.

Natera's Panorama is already marketed to identify the mutations that spell Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, Patau syndrome and Turner syndrome. Now, thanks to positive data for the noninvasive test, Natera has stretched Panorama to cover triploidy, a rare condition in which the fetus has three copies of every chromosome.

Triploidy affects about 1 out of every 1,000 pregnancies at 10 weeks gestation, according to the company, and the condition can lead to significant complications for the mother, including high blood pressure and bleeding. Panorama, with its 7- to 10-day turnaround, provides early detection that can improve patient outcomes, Natera said.

Natera competes with the likes of Sequenom ($SQNM), Illumina's ($ILMN) Verinata Health and Ariosa Diagnostics in the prenatal testing space, but, thanks to its innovative technology, the California test maker is the only on that can offer triploidy detection, CEO Matthew Rabinowitz said.

"It has been our goal from the beginning to bring doctors and patients the most relevant clinical information for improved management of the pregnancy, and triploidy is an excellent example of these efforts," Rabinowitz said in a statement. "Other non-invasive prenatal tests based on cell-free DNA analysis, which rely on a counting method and comparison to a set of reference chromosomes, are unable to detect this condition."

Since launching Panorama in March, Natera has signed distribution deals with some of the world's largest labs, including Quest Diagnostics ($DGX), Bio-Reference Laboratories and ARUP Laboratories. In May, Natera hauled in $54.6 million in venture cash, winning the support of big names like OrbiMed Advisors, Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

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