by Caitlyn Stace
Scientists at Mercy Hospital for Women have made a "groundbreaking discovery" in the treatment of preeclampsia, a potentially fatal condition that affects 1 in 20 pregnancies and kills 60,000 women worldwide each year.
The Translational Obstetrics Group at Mercy Hospital for Women has identified a molecule which releases the toxin into the bloodstream which causes preeclampsia. This toxin contains proteins hostile to blood vessels that escape from the placenta and spread throughout the mother's body, damaging her organs.
Clearly, this discovery will have major implication for mothers and babies affected by this serious complication of pregnancy.
Published in the American Journal of Pathology, the study was conducted by two young scientists − Dr Tu'hevaha Kaitu'u-Lino and Dr. Kirsten Palmer – and headed by Associate Professor Stephen Tong. Professor Tong said of the team's work,
"Our group has been working hard to unravel the key biological steps causing preeclampsia. Our discovery could have a very real impact on how we care for women with preeclampsia in the future."
The Tranlsation Obstetrics Group is already moving forward with their discovery, trying to develop such a drug.
However, Professor Tong says the discovery is significant, but an effective treatment for preeclampsia is still at least 10 years away.
Dr. Tong continued, "But at least for now we've identified a specific target that we could now very much hone in our drug development, whereas before it would be difficult to even know where to start."
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