CombiMatrix offers answers for women who have had multiple miscarriages

It’s a little discussed fact that many pregnancies end in miscarriage – and it can be hard to understand why. CombiMatrix, an Orange County-based fetal diagnostic company, has developed a microarray test that is positioned to help women who have experienced multiple miscarriages understand the root cause. “We’re tackling an underpublicized problem here,” CEO Mark […]

It’s a little discussed fact that many pregnancies end in miscarriage – and it can be hard to understand why. CombiMatrix, an Orange County-based fetal diagnostic company, has developed a microarray test that is positioned to help women who have experienced multiple miscarriages understand the root cause.

“We’re tackling an underpublicized problem here,” CEO Mark McDonough said. “What’s not well known is that some 200,000 in the U.S. have had multiple losses and are looking for solutions. Typically they’re blaming themselves.”

About 50 percent of miscarriages result from cytogenetic abnormalities; CombiMatrix has the microarray technology to quickly tell a woman the precise reason. This is a vast improvement over current karyotyping technology, McDonough said, which only provides the correct reason about 60 percent of the time – and can take three weeks. CombiMatrix turns around the results in a matter of days, allowing a woman peace of mind sooner than she might otherwise have had, McDonough said.

Miscarriages, defined as a loss before 20 weeks of pregnancy, are actually common – nearly 15 percent of all pregnancies end this way – but testing is generally only recommended for women who have had three. This still accounts for about one percent of pregnant women.

CombiMatrix started as a maker of gene sequencing products, but in the past two years has reinvented itself as a DNA testing company with a focus on using microarray technology and cytogenomic testing for prenatal diagnoses and pediatric development disorders, in addition to miscarriage analysis.

McDonough, who started at the company in February 2013, helped shepherd many of the changes that are making investors take a second glance at a once-beleaguered company. CombiMatrix was flailing just a few years ago – it was running out of money, fast, before pivoting to address the miscarriage market. Interest is quickly building for the use of microarray testing in miscarriages, given the growing number of women who are having them.

“More and more women, because of their careers, are waiting to have children later,” McDonough said. “This is leading to more miscarriages. They need a better solution, and that’s where CombiMatrix comes in.”

[Image of a sculpture by Rodin overlaid with a DNA micro array pattern from flickr user Sun]