ADAM12 biomarker could arrest ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo fails to implant in the womb. In this situation, implantation often occurs in the Fallopian tubes. As the embryo grows, the tube could rupture, resulting in the loss of the embryo and threatening the life of the pregnant woman. However, other than physically catching it on an ultrasound, there is currently no way to predict whether an ectopic pregnancy will occur. And that's where the search for biomarkers can potentially pay off. Scientists at The Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found a protein--ADAM12--whose presence showed a nearly 97 percent correlation with ectopic pregnancy.

"Here we describe a group of proteins that, with further refinement, could make a simple blood test for ectopic pregnancy," Wistar researcher David Speicher said in a release. "This is also a proof-of-principle demonstration of a new method for the discovery of new blood-borne markers that may serve as diagnostic blood tests to detect or predict a variety of clinical conditions and diseases, from ectopic pregnancy to cancer."

Speicher compared the proteomic signature of blood samples taken from known cases of ectopic pregnancy with blood samples taken from women who experienced a normal pregnancy. They discovered about 70 candidate biomarkers that could signal ectopic pregnancy. Then, through some stringent statistical analysis, he whittled it down to the 12 most promising biomarkers. While some of the proteins had previously known associations with ectopic pregnancies, the researchers found at least two, including ADAM12, that had never been previously associated with ectopic pregnancy.

Speicher sees this research as not only useful for ectopic pregnancies, but also as a validation of biomarker research, in general. "The great power of biomarkers is to detect clinical disorders such as ecotopic pregnancy or diseases, such as cancer, early when it is often easiest to treat the patient," Speicher said in a prepared statement. "Here we can envision a useful blood test that could, as part of routine early prenatal care, save the lives of many women."

- take a look at the release
- and the abstract in the Journal of Proteome Research