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Jigsaw genetics

DNA fragments in mother's blood allow scientists to piece together fetal genome, check for disease

Doctors may soon be able to diagnose a baby’s genetic health by taking a blood sample from the mother.

Researchers in Hong Kong have pieced together the entire genetic blueprint of an unborn baby from snippets of DNA in the mother’s blood, the team reports in the Dec. 8 Science Translational Medicine. The scientists were able to determine the baby’s genetic makeup well enough to test for a genetic disease.

The accomplishment “is a relative tour de force,” says Laird Jackson, a medical geneticist at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “It’s opened the door on something that people have dreamed about for a while.”

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