issue of Science, detects levels of “cell-free RNA” from seven specific genes. RNA is the messenger molecule that carries genetic information to your cells’ protein-making machinery. Bits of “cell-free” RNA can be measured in the blood.
Quake’s team found that in women at increased risk of preterm delivery, the blood test predicted premature labor with 75 to 80 percent accuracy. According to Quake, that level of accuracy is good enough to be used in routine practice, but more work is needed to see whether that performance holds up in larger studies.
“Studies will need to include women of different races and ethnicities,” Quake said. “As well as women who are not known to be at increased risk of preterm delivery.”
Dr. Kelle Moley is senior vice president of the March of Dimes, which partially funded the study.
Moley said there are about 15 million preterm births worldwide each year, and the rate in the United States has recently been inching up. So, there is a great need for tests that can help predict early deliveries.
She added that the new results are “exciting,” in part because it’s a simple blood test that could potentially become widely available. But Moley agreed that a clinical trial, including a more diverse group of women, is necessary.
For the study, Quake’s team first followed 31 Danish women who gave