Pre-eclampsia gene discovered

Researchers have discovered a gene which may be linked with pre-eclampsia in some women – raising hopes of a diagnostic test and early treatment.

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Mice, genetically-engineered to be deficient in an enzyme called COMT, were found to develop pre-eclampsia.

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The researchers from Harvard Medical School said low levels of COMT are also seen in pregnant women with the condition – which is dangerous for mother and baby.

But obstetric experts said a test would still be a long way off.

Pre-eclampsia accounts for 15% of all premature deliveries in the UK.

This is because the only way to completely cure pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby. Left untreated, the condition can lead to convulsions, kidney failure and serious liver problems.

“If this is a gene responsible for pre-eclampsia in some families then it would be a nice genetic test,” said study leader Dr Raghu Kalluri.

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The team are now planning a large clinical trial in women to look at the effect of COMT.

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