Michigan Patent of the Month – July 2021

Preterm birth can contribute to neonatal mortality, permanent deficiencies, low birth weight and a variety of ailments. Infection can be an indicator for preterm birth, but not all preterm babies experience an infection. Besides this, screening for infections does not always accurately detect genetic predispositions to preterm birth. Retinal Solutions, LLC has recently worked on using a Frizzled-4 mutation to more accurately detect a proclivity for preterm birth.

Frizzled-4 is a transmembrane receptor which contributes to the formation of primary retinal vascular and retinal capillaries. Mutations in the gene that encodes this receptor have been linked with premature birth. Retinal Solutions had developed a method for detecting this genetic mutation and therefore predicting premature birth. By analyzing a sample from the mother, they can look for the presence of the Frizzled-4 gene variation which would indicate a higher than usual chance for a preterm birth. The samples are analyzed through a software that matches sequences in the gene to a common reference and observing various modifications.If detected, the fetus can then be treated for this proclivity, in an effort to allow full gestation and a full-term birth and improve life long health.

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