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Texas A&M Research Lab Developing Test for Preeclampsia Early in Pregnancy

Texas A&M Research Lab Developing Test for Preeclampsia Early in Pregnancy

A research lab out of Texas A&M University is developing a test to detect preeclampsia earlier in pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication sometimes seen about half-way through a woman’s pregnancy—around the 20-week mark—or later. The condition is characterized by high blood pressure and protein present in the urine. While the cause of preeclampsia is unknown, if untreated or undetected, it may lead to complications resulting in both maternal and fetal injury, and in severe cases, death.

The research lab is performing studies to detect and potentially treat preeclampsia during the first trimester, before symptoms start. Their goal is to develop a non-invasive test expectant mothers can take during pregnancy. To do this, the team is studying what are known as epigenetic and microRNA biomarkers that are associated with preeclampsia. These biomarkers provide information about changes in the way genes are expressed. My measuring these changes, if any, the team can look for patterns that are associated with preeclampsia. “ Essentially, we are looking for something that happens before genetic change,” said Zehuan Ding, a postdoctoral trainee in the lab.

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