New hope in the search for a pre-eclampsia treatment

12 December 2016        

Category: Research

Research that we've part-funded has shown that a white blood cell treatment could improve the development of the placenta in women with pregnancy complications, according to a study in mice and human blood samples.

The early research, led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) researchers and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved studying a type of white blood cell called a neutrophil.

What is pre-eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia affects up to six per cent of women during the second half of pregnancy or soon after giving birth. Early signs include high blood pressure and protein in your urine.

Women are tested for these at antenatal appointments, as symptoms may not be obvious. Most cases are mild, but it can have serious complications for both mother and baby if not treated. It will usually go away after birth.

Although the exact cause isn’t known, having diabetes and high blood pressure could increase your chances of developing pre-eclampsia, so it’s important to follow a healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk as much as you can.

Targeting the immune system

Neutrophils are part of the immune system and crucial to the body’s defence against infection but these new findings suggest they may have a role in maintaining healthy pregnancy.

The findings suggest that these immune cells could be targeted as part of pre-eclampsia treatment.

Further research into pre-eclampsia is needed

The researchers and the BHF believe there is still much further study required before this can become a treatment for the many women who suffer from pre-eclampsia and its complications.

Our scientists are working hard to find new ways of tackling this devastating condition. Find out more about projects we're funding which could help beat problems which affect women in particular.

find out more