New biomarker panel flags risk of preeclampsia

A set of 14 metabolites found in blood plasma can accurately flag the risk of a dangerous spike in blood pressure that can affect women in the late stages of pregnancy, a condition known as preeclampsia. And scientists say the panel of biomarkers can be used to help develop new treatments and identify patients long before the danger arises.

"Everything we know about this condition suggests women do not become sick and present with preeclampsia until late in pregnancy, but the condition originates in early pregnancy," said study lead author Dr. Louise Kenny, a professor at University College Cork in Ireland. "To develop effective treatment and prevention strategies--our ultimate goal--we need to be able to start treatment in early pregnancy. We need to be able to tell who is at risk and who is not."

Up to now physicians have been unable to predict the likelihood of preeclampsia, a condition that occurs in about five percent of pregnancies. The researchers found the biomarkers after running blood tests on 60 women who developed the condition. The metabolic profiling test proved an accurate predictor for the condition in follow-up studies.

"What I find particularly interesting with these kinds of biomarker studies is that they may, in fact, ultimately shed light on what actually causes preeclampsia, and hopefully eventually give us some information on treatments for preeclampsia," the University of Pittsburgh's Dr. Arun Jeyabalan tells USA Today. "That's where this would be most valuable."

- here's the story from USA Today