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Pilot study suggests new approach to treat preeclampsia
Date:8/2/2011

221.10.254.64

A novel therapy that reduces elevated blood levels of a potentially toxic protein in women with preeclampsia, a dangerous complication of pregnancy, may someday address the therapeutic dilemma posed by the condition balancing life-threatening risks to the mother with the dangers that early delivery poses to an immature fetus. In a paper receiving online release in the journal Circulation, a team of U.S. and German researchers report promising results from their pilot study of a filtration technology that reduces reduce excess blood levels of soluble Flt-1, a protein that limits the growth of blood vessels, in women with very preterm preeclampsia.

"Introducing new therapies in pregnancy is uncommon because of the need to avoid extra risks to both the mother and baby," says Ravi Thadhani, MD, MPH, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Division of Nephrology, co-corresponding author of the report. "In this paper we show that a disease that affects thousands of women around the world may one day be able to be managed by the therapy we developed. This was a small, proof-of-concept study to see if the therapy is safe and possibly effective; so larger, randomized trials now need to be done."

Affecting 5 to 7 percent of pregnancies, preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine and additional metabolic abnormalities. If symptoms progress, it can lead to kidney or liver failure, brain swelling, seizures and death. Since the only way to halt the process is to deliver the fetus, the earlier in a pregnancy preeclampsia occurs the greater the risk to the baby. Very preterm delivery before 32 weeks of gestation has been estimated to increase infant mortality as much as 70 times over full-term delivery at 37 or more weeks. Very preterm babies who do survive may face lifelong complications such as cerebral palsy, so finding an intervention that can safely pro
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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