NEWS: If you and your research team are interested in participating in a multi center trial to compare your fetal genetic health care gold standard to the TRIC technology, as published in Science Translational Medicine, we invite you to contact us @ Sascha.Drewlo@med.wayne.edu

TRIC (Trophoblast Retrieval and Isolation from Cervix)

Biology of placental trophoblast cells in the cervix during pregnancy

Harnessing fetal cells non-invasively and safely early in pregnancy is considered the holy-grail of perinatal testing. Pre-implantation diagnosis, villous and amniotic fluid sampling, as well as, cell-free DNA are currently used to investigate genetic features of the fetus. This information is critical for couples with a history of genetic disorders to help manage their pregnancy accordingly to the needs of the fetus. The invasiveness, risk to the fetus and biases of some of these tests require other options to investigate genetic status and placental function early in pregnancy. That's where our exciting research comes in. We are currently investigating the biology of the fetal cells and how they relate to their origin, the placenta.

A new Paradigm in perinatal Diagnosis - trophoblast cells from the cervix

The presence of fetal cells in the cervix has been widely known since 1970 but its clinical use was severely limited due to the small numbers of fetal cells (1 in 2000) and a lack of technology to capable of harvesting a pure population of cells. These limitations have been recently overcome by our partner and leader in the field, Dr. Armant and his team at Wayne State University. Combined with new technologies capable of analyzing samples with small cell numbers, we are now able to investigate the limited number of fetal cells in the cervix. Our laboratories (Dr. Armant & Dr. Drewlo) are on the forefront of this technology, which has been patented and licensed to an industry partner. 

TRIC procedure

TRIC. Endocervical specimens obtained at 5-20 weeks gestational age are fixed in transport medium, and EVT cells (red) are isolated in the laboratory, using immuno-magnetic separation, as we have published. EVT cells can be mounted on slides, frozen in tubes, or processed for RNA isolatation. β-hCG and gender assessment by FISH show average purity of EVT cells to be 99%, with average EVT cell recoveries of ~900. The HLA-G positive cells express specific EVT phenotype markers by immunocytochemistry (ICC). 

Placental Fetal cells isolated safely using the TRIC procedure were stained for beta-hCG (green) a trophoblast cell marker and nuclei were labeled using DAPI dye.

Placental Fetal cells isolated safely using the TRIC procedure were stained for beta-hCG (green) a trophoblast cell marker and nuclei were labeled using DAPI dye.

Our recent pilot studies in high risk pregnancies show the potential of the TRIC technology to monitor placental and pregnancy health as early as five weeks of pregnancy safely and non-invasively. In summary we showed in these studies that cervical cells have different protein signatures compared to those that result in healthy pregnancy outcomes. This was detected up to 20 weeks before any clinical symptoms in the abnormal pregnancies occurred. This tells us many things about the underlying mechanisms of placental disorders. Furthermore, these studies build the corner stones for larger clinical trials to explore the usefulness of cervical fetal cells as a predictive tool during pregnancy.

Our recent pilot studies in high risk pregnancies show the potential of the TRIC technology to monitor placental and pregnancy health as early as five weeks of pregnancy safely and non-invasively. In summary we showed in these studies that cervical cells have different protein signatures compared to those that result in healthy pregnancy outcomes. This was detected up to 20 weeks before any clinical symptoms in the abnormal pregnancies occurred. This tells us many things about the underlying mechanisms of placental disorders. Furthermore, these studies build the corner stones for larger clinical trials to explore the usefulness of cervical fetal cells as a predictive tool during pregnancy.

We are currently developing new innovative technology for genetic and placental testing. 

Stay tuned and check out current and upcoming publications on the topic #drewloPub.

If you would like to support the development of this technology as a collaborator or donor please feel free to contact Dr. Armant (DArmant@med.wayne.edu) or Dr. Drewlo (Sascha.Drewlo@hc.msu.edu) directly or use the contact form on this website.