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Genetic Testing Firms Establish NIPT Advocacy Organization

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A group of five genetic testing firms announced today that they have formed the Coalition for Access to Prenatal Screening (CAPS), an organization that aims to boost access to cell-free DNA (cfDNA)-based noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT).

CAPS is composed of Illumina, Counsyl, Progenity, Natera, and Laboratory Corporation of America's speciality lab Integrated Genetics. According to the companies, their new coalition will promote public awareness of cfDNA-based NIPT, as well as encourage legislation measures and push for reimbursement coverage policy changes that support testing.

"As leading providers of cfDNA-based NIPT, CAPS members are working together towards the common goal of ensuring that this innovative and highly accurate screening method is easily accessible to all pregnant women who choose to pursue aneuploidy screening, regardless of their risk factors, income, age, or geographic location," Arnold Cohen, chairman emeritus of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the Einstein Healthcare Network, said in a statement. "We recognize the importance of providing reliable and useful information about cfDNA-based NIPT to patients, healthcare providers, and public and private insurers."

Cohen serves as chairman of the CAPS clinical advisory board, which is recruiting new members to be announced in the first half of this year.

Despite its participation in CAPS, however, Natera has also filed a suit against Bio-Reference Laboratories that may limit that company’s ability to offer its own NIPT testing to customers.

Natera claimed that Bio-Reference breached a contract between the two firms when it launched and promoted a noninvasive prenatal test based on Illumina's technology, according to a research note issued this morning by investment bank Piper Jaffray. Bio-Reference has been offering Natera's Panorama noninvasive prenatal screening test since 2013, but last month it launched its own NIPS, ClariTest, which is based on technology it licensed from Illumina.