Diagnostic information services provider Quest Diagnostics has introduced QNatal Advanced, a new noninvasive prenatal screening service developed to detect chromosomal abnormalities in high-risk pregnancies.

QNatal Advanced is a lab-developed test, which is validated by the company using massively parallel shotgun sequencing (MPSS), a type of next-generation sequencing technology with GC correction.

Quest Diagnostics developed this test based on intellectual property that is licensed by the company from Sequenom in June 2014.

Quest Diagnostics women health medical director Dr Douglas Rabin said: "As a leader in women’s health, Quest Diagnostics has a responsibility to ensure our patients and physicians understand both the advantages and limitations of the services we provide. Cell-free DNA tests are for screening only, and never diagnostic.

"The phrase ‘noninvasive prenatal screening’ coined by Quest Diagnostics reflects the seriousness with which we take our responsibility to ensure women have access to health insights that are appropriate, actionable and of the highest quality."

QNatal Advanced is said to analyze cell-free fetal DNA in circulating maternal blood to screen for common and rare chromosomal abnormalities, including those associated with trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome), monosomy X (Turner syndrome), fetal sex aneuploidies and select copy number variants.

Designed for use as early as ten weeks into gestation, the screening test analyzes more chromosomal regions than most other noninvasive prenatal tests, noted the company.