Published On: Sun, Feb 25th, 2018

Israeli Scientists Develop Blood Test for Early Diagnostic of Common Pregnancy Complication

Up to eight percent of pregnant women may contract preeclampsia during their pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the US. 

 

Preeclampsia, a sudden pregnancy complication that can interfere with the blood flow to the placenta and possibly to the fetus, can lead to low birth weight, prematurity, and even death.

For the first time, Researchers at Tel Aviv University identifies novel molecular biomarkers of the common pregnancy complication, which can lead to an early diagnostic. A simple blood test would predict preeclampsia and, in turn, allow doctors to provide treatment that would prevent the very onset of the disease.

Preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the US.

“Up to eight percent of pregnant women may develop complication during their second or third trimester,” explains Dr. Noam Shomron, co-led author of the study. “This is a serious disease that endangers the health, sometimes even the lives, of the mother and the fetus. We don’t know what causes it, but preeclampsia, if caught in time, has a simple and proven remedy: low doses of aspirin administered from the 16th week until the end of pregnancy.”

During last six years, the researchers from TAU in collaboration with Prof. Kypros Nicolaides of King’s College, London, examined the blood samples from thousands of pregnant women in their first trimester from clinics in the UK. The team, including Prof. Moshe Hod and Liron Yoffe, then narrowed their focus to 75 specific blood samples: 35 taken from women who eventually contracted preeclampsia, and 40 taken from those who completed their pregnancies in full health.

The scientists discovered the new biomarkers by analyzing the data using computational methods that included statistical analyses and machine learning algorithms.

“We identified 25 small RNA molecules that were differentially expressed between the preeclampsia and the control groups. Based on those RNA molecules, we then developed a model for the classification of preeclampsia samples,” says Liron Yoffe. “These findings indicate the predictive value of circulating small RNA molecules in the first trimester, and lay the foundation for producing a novel early non-invasive diagnostic tool for preeclampsia, which could reduce the life-threatening risk for both the mother and fetus.”

“We identified 25 small RNA molecules that were differentially expressed between the preeclampsia and the control groups. Based on those RNA molecules, we then developed a model for the classification of preeclampsia samples,” says Liron Yoffe. “These findings lay the foundation for producing a novel early non-invasive diagnostic tool for preeclampsia, which could reduce the life-threatening risk for both the mother and fetus.”

According to Prof. Moshe Hod, the new research follows a global trend, which “seeks to establish pregnancy tests in the first trimester, as opposed to today, when most tests are performed in the third trimester.”

“The samples recently collected from other countries — Italy, Spain, Russia, and in particular Israel — will be used to apply our findings collectively to patients from around the world,” adds Dr. Shomron

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