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October 8, 2015

LifeLabs is first lab in Canada to perform simple prenatal screening blood test

LifeLabs is the first Canadian laboratory to perform NIPT in Canada.

LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services (“LifeLabs”) now provides the Panorama Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) at its genetics lab in Toronto. Expectant mothers can obtain a simple blood test at nine weeks gestation to detect multiple conditions of their fetus rather than waiting for invasive and high-risk amniocentesis testing.

By conducting this testing in Canada, Canadians will receive results faster and our healthcare system will realize meaningful savings.

“LifeLabs is committed to making clinically relevant, cost effective and innovative testing more broadly available to all Canadians,” said Sue Paish, President and CEO of LifeLabs. “Delivering NIPT through our Canadian genetics lab means pregnant women, their families and their healthcare professionals will receive faster information about their fetus, at reduced risk to the woman and the fetus, using world-class technology delivered through a Canadian based laboratory. Having this capability — in Canada — is a first for Canadians.”

Panorama is a safe and simple way for expectant mothers to learn about the health of their baby without an invasive diagnostic procedure. It also delivers the most accurate results of any prenatal screening test. Panorama uses a simple blood test to examine cell-free DNA found in maternal blood originating from both the mother and the fetus to determine whether there are any chromosome abnormalities, including trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome), monosomy X (Turner syndrome), and triploidy. The test can be performed as early as nine weeks into a pregnancy without any risk to the mother or the fetus. The test has a false positive rate of less than 1%. By comparison, the standard maternal serum screening has a 5% false positive rate.

“Non-invasive prenatal testing has become a routine second tier screen in pregnancies at increased risk for common numeric chromosome differences. The fact that this is a non-invasive test with no fetal risks, as well as being a screening test with a higher sensitivity and lower false positive rate compared to traditional maternal marker screening, makes NIPT a very popular test choice amongst pregnant women,” said Dr. Deborah Terespolsky, a Clinical Geneticist at Trillium Health Partners.

Leading professional associations such as the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have recommended that NIPT be offered as a test option to women with increased risk factors for fetal DNA abnormalities.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care covers the cost of performing NIPT testing at LifeLabs for expectant mothers who are considered high-risk and meet certain criteria. By performing the NIPT test in Canada, the Ontario government will see an estimated savings of over 40 per cent per test.

“By performing NIPT testing in Canada and bringing other genetic tests to Canada, LifeLabs is advancing win-win-win innovations that are: providing greater value for money to governments and individuals; improving access to genetic tests to patients and their families; and building a highly skilled workforce and ‘made in Canada’ capacity in genetic testing,” said Jeff Sumner, Senior Vice-President, Business Development, Clinical Affairs and Genetics at LifeLabs.

Patients should consult with their healthcare provider to determine if Panorama is right for them. The test can be ordered by healthcare providers across Canada and consists of a simple blood draw collected at any LifeLabs, CML HealthCare or BC Biomedical collection centre in British Columbia or Ontario. LifeLabs has many collection options outside of these two provinces as well. Patients or healthcare providers can contact LifeLabs Genetics to get more details on these options.


LifeLabs is a Canadian-owned company with over 50 years of experience providing laboratory testing services to help healthcare providers diagnose, treat, monitor and prevent disease in patients. In communities across British Columbia and Ontario, LifeLabs delivers cost-effective, convenient access to laboratory testing services essential for optimal outcomes in healthcare. LifeLabs employs approximately 5,400 professionally trained staff and delivers over 100 million laboratory tests, supporting over 19 million patient visits annually. In 2013, LifeLabs acquired BC Biomedical in British Columbia and CML HealthCare in Ontario making LifeLabs the largest community laboratory in Canada. LifeLabs is indirectly owned by OMERS Administration Corporation, whose interest is managed by Borealis Infrastructure.

NIPT is one example of LifeLabs’ commitment to provide innovations that benefit patients and their families, healthcare providers and governments. In addition to being the first community lab to conduct NIPT in Canada, LifeLabs is the first lab to provide on-line appointment booking for patients, non-fasting protocols and secure, on-line access to lab results for patients. For more information about LifeLabs, visit:

For more information about the Panorama Non-Invasive Prenatal Test and LifeLabs Genetics, visit or call 1 84 GENE HELP (1 844 363 4357).

About Borealis Infrastructure:  

Borealis Infrastructure is a leader in direct infrastructure investing with over a decade of investment experience. Borealis manages more than $12 billion in OMERS equity capital through investments in a diversified portfolio of large-scale infrastructure assets exhibiting stability and strong cash flows, in sectors including energy, transportation and social infrastructure. It has offices in Toronto, London, New York and Sydney. Borealis is the infrastructure investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada’s largest pension funds with net assets of more than $72 billion. For more information please visit or

Media Contact:
Stephanie Sayer 
LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services 
(416) 675-4530 x 2015

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