Pre-eclampsia is a dangerous condition that as many as 8 percent of pregnant women face. It can cause several health conditions, preterm birth, and the possibility of death if left untreated. A new test, however, may allow doctors to predict which women will face pre-eclampsia and begin preparing for it before symptoms appear.
Researchers from the Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital have created a test based on an animal model that may allow lab testing for pre-eclampsia to happen. Until now, pre-eclampsia has been both untreatable and unpredictable. If the new test is accurate it could change that problem completely.
Studies on the new test have been reported in The American Journal of Pathology. Researchers used pregnant mice, injecting them with isolated blood serum from pregnant humans who had pre-eclampsia. As predicted, the mice went on the develop the condition as well. This did not happen in mice who were not pregnant, or in wild mice not genetically engineered for this research. Mice who are pregnant and lacking the immune system secretion Interleukin-10 (IL-10) may be accurate predictors for pre-eclampsia in pregnant humans.
The researchers were able to take what they learned from this to create a test that could predict pre-eclampsia as early as 12-14 weeks into the pregnancy.
“Our model is the first pregnancy-specific animal model,” said Surendra Sharma, professor of pediatrics at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a research scientist at Women & Infants, “and our predictive assay is the first one where we can go back to the first trimester and predict problems.”
Based on the research, a patent application for the test has been filed and is awaiting approval. The test will continue to be refined into a clinical model with the help of the FDA. Soon, doctors may be able to test women for pre-eclampsia weeks before any symptoms begin to appear. – Summer, staff writer
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