Vortex Biosciences announces publication in Prenatal Diagnosis

The peer-reviewed publication demonstrates the versatility and flexibility of applications of the Vortex VTX-1 platform. Working in partnership with the team of Prof. Filip Van Nieuwerburgh, at Ghent University in Belgium, this publication describes the use of Vortex’s technology to enrich circulating trophoblasts (CTs) from a single tube of maternal blood at week 11-13 of gestation. This is a significant demonstration of the label-free isolation of CTs from maternal blood with the VTX-1 platform.


Vortex Biosciences, provider of circulating tumor cell (CTC) capture systems, today announced the publication of “Enrichment of circulating trophoblasts from maternal blood using laminar microscale vortices” in Prenatal Diagnosis on January 12, 2021.

The peer-reviewed publication describes the use of the Vortex technology to enrich circulating trophoblasts (CTs) from a single tube of maternal blood at week 11-13 of gestation.

The research was completed by the team of Prof. Filip Van Nieuwerburgh at Ghent University in Belgium. Study co-authors include Dr. Ann-Sophie Vander Plaetsen and doctoral fellow Jana Weymaere.

Prenatal genomic-based testing is now an option for expecting parents to make informed decisions on their pregnancy, as well as to consider preemptive actions regarding the health of their neonate. Clinical implementation of cell-free non-invasive prenatal testing (cfNIPT) is expanding worldwide and has led to a reduction of invasive and risky procedures such as amniocentesis. However, mostly, this technology only detects larger genetic aberrations such as aneuploidies. Cell-based non-invasive prenatal testing (cbNIPT) is a promising alternative that focuses on the CT isolation from maternal blood to enable the genetic analysis of the entire fetal genome.

In this study, a combined workflow was developed and characterized for CT isolation from maternal blood. VTX-1 performance evaluation in spike-in experiments with trophoblasts cell lines resulted in a recovery of +/- 35%. Recovery of CTs was then confirmed for 7/10 first-trimester samples from pregnant women carrying a male fetus. Using a Y-chromosome specific qPCR assay, between 2 and 6 CTs were detected from 8 mL of maternal blood.

Dr. Corinne Renier, Director of R&D of Vortex Biosciences, commented, “This is a first demonstration of the label-free isolation of CTs from maternal blood with the VTX-1, and a first step towards cell-based NIPT. This study also illustrates the flexibility and range of our technology and its applicability to other blood circulating rare cells that may prove valuable for personalized medicine”.

“VTX-1 allows size-based enrichment of CTs starting from whole blood without pre-enrichment. Moreover, the enriched cells are of high purity, which facilitates downstream staining, selection, and isolation of single CTs”, said Prof. Van Nieuwerburgh, Professor at Ghent University. “Our goal is to implement the VTX-1 enrichment in a beginning-to-end cbNIPT workflow”.

“This path-breaking research illustrates the growing number of use cases for Vortex’s market-leading cell-isolation technology, not only in the cancer research space but in other important areas such as prenatal research. We look forward to further growth in adoption of Vortex’s RUO platform in these growing markets”. Dr. Ilian Iliev, Executive Chairman of Vortex.

About Vortex Biosciences

Vortex Biosciences provides an automated, label-free, benchtop solution for isolation and purification of Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) from a standard 8 ml tube of blood. The VTX-1 instrument rapidly processes the sample through micro vortices to enrich the CTCs and delivers these highly purified cells into a choice of collection formats. These samples containing viable, undamaged CTCs are easily integrated into downstream genomics, protein markers testing, single cell analysis and staining techniques. Vortex Biosciences is backed by EMV Capital, a subsidiary of NetScientific PLC, and other private investors.

About Ghent University – Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Ghent University is a top 100 university and one of the major universities in Belgium. Its 11 faculties offer more than 200 courses and conduct in-depth research within a wide range of scientific domains. The team of Prof. Van Nieuwerburgh is focused on topics making use of the many applications of massively parallel sequencing, including bioinformatics. They have the expertise to perform single cell genome-wide (epi)genomics and transcriptomics. Going after the elusive fetal cells in maternal blood is a logical next step and a current focus. Non-invasive access to fetal cells during pregnancies would revolutionize the field of prenatal testing.

For further information regarding the Vortex VTX-1 platform or possible trial of the instrument please contact chris@vortexbiosciences.com.

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