Authors: Federico GabrielliFilomena Tiziana PapaFabio Di PietroAndreu Paytuví-GallartDaniel JulianWalter SanseverinoCinzia Alfonsi 

Publication: International Journal of Genomics

Published: June, 2024



Objective: The present study is aimed at introducing and evaluating MaterniCode, a state-of-the-art bioinformatic pipeline for noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) that leverages the Ion Torrent semiconductor sequencing platform. The initiative strives to revolutionize prenatal diagnostics by offering a rapid and cost-effective method without sacrificing accuracy.

Methods: Two distinct bioinformatic strategies were employed for fetal sex determination, one of which achieved 100% accuracy. We analyzed 1225 maternal blood samples for fetal aneuploidies, benchmarking against the industry standard Illumina VeriSeq™ NIPT Solution v2. The capability of MaterniCode to detect and characterize complex chromosomal anomalies was also assessed.

Results: MaterniCode achieved near-perfect accuracy in fetal sex determination through chromosome Y (chrY )–specific gene analysis, whereas the alternative method, employing the ratio of high-quality mapped reads on chrY relative to all reads, delivered 100% accuracy. For fetal aneuploidy detection, both the integrated WisecondorX and NIPTeR algorithms demonstrated a 100% sensitivity and specificity rate, consistent with Illumina VeriSeq™ NIPT Solution v2. The pipeline also successfully identified and precisely mapped significant chromosomal abnormalities, exemplified by a 2.4 Mb deletion on chromosome 13 and a 3 Mb duplication on chromosome 2.

Conclusion: MaterniCode has proven to be an innovative and highly efficient tool in the domain of NIPT, demonstrating excellent sensitivity and specificity. Its robust capability to effectively detect a wide range of complex chromosomal aberrations, including rare and subtle variations, positions it as a promising and valuable addition to prenatal diagnostic technologies. This enhancement to diagnostic precision significantly aids clinicians in making informed decisions during pregnancy management.