Novel biomarker diagnostic test could revolutionize the diagnosis of pre-eclampsia, a complex condition that can be fatal if undiagnosed during pregnancy
Collaborators at Cottage Health System and University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) have identified biomarkers that may yield a revolutionary diagnostic test for pre-eclampsia, a complex and potentially life-threatening hypertensive condition affecting 5% of pregnancies worldwide.
The most common dangerous complication of pregnancy, pre-eclampsia is potentially fatal and often mimics or is confused with other pregnancy-related conditions-such as swelling, gastric pain, and high blood pressure. Pre-eclampsia can lead to eclampsia, which carries a maternal mortality rate of 1.8 percent worldwide.
Through a partnership funded by the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Research Grant Program, the study was led by Dr. Alex Soffici, perinatologist with Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and Dr. Patrick Daugherty, professor of chemical engineering at UCSB. Plasma samples were collected over a period of two years from both normal-outcome and pre-eclampsia pregnancy patients at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and then analyzed by UCSB graduate researcher Serra Elliott to identify candidate biomarkers.
"We are seeing the early stages of something that could be quite big," said Soffici. "Therapeutics for pre-eclampsia are on the horizon."
The group discovered that certain antibodies are present in the blood of patients with pre-eclampsia, but not in women with healthy pregnancies. Their results suggest that this new diagnostic test could effectively distinguish pre-eclampsia syndrome from conditions with similar symptoms. The collaborators' research continues in an ongoing study that could lead to technology available to clinical settings.