Preeclampsia is a pregnancy specific disease that affects both the mother and the baby. The disease is characterised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and it affects up to 10% of all pregnancies worldwide. Currently there are no ways to either predict the onset of preeclampsia or to prevent the progression of the disease once established. Once preeclampsia has been diagnosed the only real cure is to deliver the baby. There is a high risk this may be required preterm.
The PRaMM researchers are engaged in research projects that aim to better understand the reasons why preeclampsia occurs. By understanding what is going wrong, we can develop strategies to either stop preeclampsia developing altogether, or manage the disease to allow the baby to develop to term before delivery.
Some of our current projects include:
• Determining why, in certain cases, the mother’s immune system does not adapt correctly to the presence of her developing baby and how this may result in the onset, or the progression of preeclampsia.
• Assessing different mechanisms that play a role in regulating placental development in normal and preeclamptic pregnancies. To determine whether these can be potential targets for therapy towards the disease.
• Determining what mechanisms control blood vessel formation in the mother and in the placenta and why these blood vessels may be abnormal in women who develop preeclampsia. The aim of this research is to potentially correct these abnormalities.
• Investigating whether recent maternal activities such as stressful events, air travel, infection, sexual intercourse, exercise and heavy lifting trigger the onset of preeclampsia.
• Leading an international study to investigate trends in pregnancy hypertension and preeclampsia in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Scotland, Sweden and the USA