Detecting Preeclampsia- the Silent Pregnancy Killer

By Santiago Noriega

Preeclampsia, the leading cause of maternal mortality in the United States, is a pregnancy complication that can interfere with blood flow to a mother’s placenta and the fetus, potentially causing low birth weight, prematurity, and death. In an effort to work towards an early diagnostic blood test, researchers led by Dr. Noam Shomron and Prof. Moshe Hod of Tel Aviv University have identified “novel molecular biomarkers of preeclampsia” (American Friends of Tel Aviv University). Specifically, by comparing RNA samples from control group and preeclampsia participants, they were able to identify a set of molecules that were significantly different between the groups. Although the cure for preeclampsia is well known and easily accessible, it is often difficult to detect the condition because as of yet doctors do not know what causes it. Shomron and Hod’s work however, shifts research on preeclampsia towards genetics. Before, doctors were only able to assess risk of preeclampsia from their medical and family history, but the finding of this new biomarker makes it possible to predict preeclampsia from a simple blood test. This way, doctors will be able to treat the condition more reliably, hopefully diminishing its lethality. Prof. Hod asserts that this new research works towards a growing trend in medicine that seeks to “establish pregnancy tests in the first trimester, as opposed to today, when most tests are performed in the third trimester” (American Friends of Tel Aviv University).

 

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2018, February 21). Scientists discover critical molecular biomarkers of preeclampsia: Small non-coding RNAs may be used to devise a diagnostic blood test for pregnant women. Retrieved March 5, 2018.