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Harmony NIPT Test – Yesterday’s News

Published
3. September 2023

TDL Genetics ends Harmony NIPT provision after a decade. With outdated technology, high no-call rates, and fierce competition, Harmony loses its shine. As leading NIPT providers, we’re reviewing TDL’s new offering. But for now, our advanced menu offers the latest prenatal screening. Remember – ultrasound still crucial for detecting 2/3 of fetal abnormalities.

End of an era…

TDL Genetics (The Doctor’s Laboratory) have announced last week that it will cease providing Harmony NIPT in its UK laboratories. TDL started providing Harmony Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening back in 2013.

Harmony NIPT, which was introduced by Ariosa Diagnostics in 2013, was for a long time a gold standard in Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing. The company was later acquired by the Swiss giant Roche Holdings, which was very successful at marketing the test and in many countries, the brand name ‘Harmony Test’ has become synonymous with ‘NIPT’. In the UK, this was particularly the case as it was one of the first NIPT tests to be approved by the NHS, and it offered in many state hospitals.

NIPT was first introduced by the now-defunct Sequenom, using the brand name MaterniT21Plus™, which was approved by the FDA in 2011. Harmony Test pioneered a new method of NIPT screening using a different cfDNA sequencing method. Harmony NIPT exhibited excellent clinical performance data at the time, helping it solidify its status as the preferred NIPT test by many healthcare professionals.

The future looks good!

In the past 10 years, NIPT has become a heavily researched space, meaning that many companies have raced to create their own NIPT test using a host of advanced technologies. A couple of such competitors are Natera’s ‘Panorama Test’ and Erofins’ ‘PrenatalSAFE Test’. This increased level of competition meant that patients could now benefit from much more advanced tests for chromosomal anomalies such as Down’s syndrome and screening for rare genetic diseases.

In this time, Harmony NIPT has fallen behind in terms of its technology versus the new tests. Furthermore, the equipment used for the test has become dated and as such many of the tests performed by TDL ended up failing to produce conclusive results due to ‘quality control issues’. These so-called ‘no-call’ results, or failure of one of the testing tubes, have become so prevalent with the samples we sent to TDL that we raised our first of many complaints with TDL back in 2021. Unfortunately, these lab challenges caused significant emotional distress for our expectant parents and frustration for our clinic’s team.

NIPT at London Pregnancy Clinic

In light of these developments, at London Pregnancy Clinic, being one of the top NIPT providers in the UK and leading international experts in fetal medicine, we set on the path of finding the best alternative NIPT. We were one of the first clinics in the UK to offer the advanced NIPT test from Invitae back in 2021. Since then, we have worked with many NIPT brands and have helped hundreds of patients navigate the best NIPT choice for them.

Our clinical team has spent months interviewing the laboratory teams of all major NIPT providers as well as auditing their clinical performance. We are now the leading provider of NIPT in London, and we feel responsible for our patients’ pathway to choose the best option in the market at every given time. We have the experience of providing the Harmony NIPT and other NIPTs, and the expertise to distinguish the performance of each test in the market. We do not offer any NIPT without thoroughly reviewing its characteristics and clinical data.

As of TDL’s new NIPT option, namely the Illumina VeriSeq NIPT, we are still waiting for the lab to send us clinical performance data and set up an interview with the lab team before we are able to offer the test to our patients. For now, we have many questions for the lab given the poor quality of performance of the Harmony NIPT in terms of no-call results which was much higher than Roche’s advertised levels from our experience. In the meantime, we are confident that our current menu of NIPT tests is the latest and most advanced screening options in the market with similar turnaround times to TDL.

As always, we will keep reminding our patients that NIPT should be done alongside a complete examination of the fetal anatomy via an ultrasound scan. The NIPT marketing machine has helped raise awareness of certain chromosomal anomalies, in particular Down’s Syndrome. However, NIPT can give you a false sense of reassurance as it is useless in screening for structural anomalies (physical defects) representing more than 2/3 of known fetal abnormalities and can often be detected using ultrasound.

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