A cure for pre-eclampsia might be already in our medicine cabinet

9 February

Pre-eclampsia and it's complications is one of the most common causes of death for pregnant women and their babies around the world, it affects between 2-8% of pregnancies. Complications of pre-eclampsia can affect both the mother and the foetus. Acutely, pre-eclampsia can be complicated by eclampsia, hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke, liver damage and dysfunction, acute kidney injury, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Researchers from the Mercy Hospital in Melbourne are contributing to the investigation of a drug that might be able to prevent this tragic and often fatal condition for mothers and babies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-eclampsia affects approximately 2-8% of all pregnancies, it is one of the leading causes of maternal and unborn baby deaths worldwide. Nearly one-tenth of all maternal deaths in Africa and Asia and one-quarter in Latin America are associated with hypertensive diseases in pregnancy, a category that includes preeclampsia. The condition can cause strokes, brain injury, liver and kidney damage and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby and remove the placenta to prevent further injury to the mother. While the early delivery of a baby in a high tech hospital can be complicated and dangerous, early delivery in a developing country is rarely a positive outcome for the baby.

An international team of researchers is taking the first steps towards discovering if a common drug, currently used to treat of all things indigestion might hold a clue to stopping the damage caused by a toxic placenta. Which could mean that a pregnant woman who had preeclampsia might be able to delay delivering her preterm baby and have a much better outcome for both mother and baby.

Dr Natalie Hannan from Mercy Hospital in Melbourne is the senior author of a study into the role of this drug in preventing the effects of preeclampsia, the findings of which have just been published in the prestigious international journal Hypertension. "We were astonished to find these common drugs switch off the production of toxins from the preeclamptic placenta and protect blood vessels from further injury."

The research team has already set up a major clinical trial in South Africa which should start this year. The trial will test whether the proton pump inhibitor esomeprazole (or Nexium) can be used to treat women diagnosed with preeclampsia very early in pregnancy.

In this podcast you can hear Dr Natalie Hannan describe her research and how the drug was considered as a possible clue in preventing preeclampsia in vulnerable pregnancies.

 

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Source: ABC Radio Melbourne

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2017/02/09/4616886.htm 

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