Friday January 24, 2020

Blood Test Can Help Diagnose Pre-eclampsia, Says Study

There was no change in the likelihood of complications for the baby, the age at which babies were delivered prematurely or whether they were admitted to a neonatal unit

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Image source- sites.bu.edu

A simple blood test can help diagnose a common but potentially fatal pregnancy complication — pre-eclampsia, finds a study published in The Lancet journal.

During the study, by measuring the concentration of placental growth factor (PlGF) in a woman’s blood, doctors were able to diagnose pre-eclampsia two days sooner on average.

“We knew monitoring PlGF was an accurate way to help detect the condition but were unsure whether making this tool available to clinicians would lead to better care for women. Now we know that it does,” said lead author Lucy Chappell from King’s College London.

Pre-eclampsia, a condition in pregnancy characterised by high blood pressure, sometimes with fluid retention and proteinuria, can cause damage to vital organs, fits and can be fatal for the woman and baby, if left untreated. Globally, 100 women die due to pre-eclampsia every day.

A health service worker takes a blood sample for a malaria test in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, on the border with Haiti, Oct. 6, 2009. A test that doesn't require a needle or blood has won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation
A health service worker takes a blood sample for a malaria test in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, on the border with Haiti, Oct. 6, 2009. VOA

“For the last hundred years, we have diagnosed pre-eclampsia by measuring blood pressure and checking for protein in a woman’s urine. These are relatively imprecise and often quite subjective,” Chappell noted.

For the study, the research team studied 1,035 women with suspected pre-eclampsia from 11 maternity units across the UK. They were randomly assigned to two groups — one had their PlGF test results made available to their clinical team, the other did not.

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The PlGF testing was shown to reduce the average time to diagnose pre-eclampsia from four to two days and serious complications before birth (such as eclampsia, stroke, and maternal death) to four per cent from five per cent.

There was no change in the likelihood of complications for the baby, the age at which babies were delivered prematurely or whether they were admitted to a neonatal unit, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Gene Expression Signature in Blood May Predict Onset of Tuberculosis

This blood test may predict onset of tuberculosis

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Blood Test
Gene expression signatures in blood could be used to predict tuberculosis at a very early stage. PIxabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have revealed a blood test could predict the onset of tuberculosis three to six months before people become unwell, a finding which could help better target antibiotics and save countless lives. This test is a must for a healthy lifestyle.

For the findings, published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, researchers at University College London sought to identify which, if any, gene expression signatures in blood could be used to predict the disease at a very early stage and before symptoms

Gene expression signatures are single or combined measurements of levels of specific gene products and are being tested in a range of diseases to aid diagnosis, prognosis or prediction of the response to treatment.

Some are already being used to support the management of cancers, but none have reached the clinic in infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB).

“Our findings establish the gene signatures in blood which show most promise for identifying people who are at risk of disease,” said study author Mahdad Noursadeghi, Professor at University College London.

Blood Test
The emergence of gene expression signature blood tests, which can aid diagnosis and early treatment, provides real hope for the management of infectious diseases. Pixabay

“Future development of a blood test based on these findings could make an important contribution to efforts to reduce the impact and spread of this deadly infection,” Noursadeghi added.

For this study, researchers initially conducted a systematic review of published gene signatures found to be present in blood samples from people with TB, compared to healthy individuals.

From this, 17 candidate gene expression signatures for TB were identified, and tested in more than 1,100 blood samples in published data sets from South Africa, Ethiopia, The Gambia, and the UK. Scientists analysed samples from people who had no TB symptoms at the time they gave blood. Those people were then followed up to identify which participants developed TB in the subsequent months.

Researchers found that eight of these signatures, including measurement of expression of a single gene, could predict the diagnosis of TB within three to six months, which falls within the accuracy required by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for new diagnostic tests.

This accuracy was achieved, by revealing the patients’ immune responses to bacteria before the symptoms of the disease develop. “The emergence of gene expression signature tests, which can aid diagnosis and early treatment, provides real hope for the management of infectious diseases,” said Indian-origin researcher and the study’s lead author Rishi Gupta.

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“In this study we identify multiple signatures to identify the onset of tuberculosis, which is extremely encouraging, potentially providing multiple targets for early detection,” Gupta added.

Further development of these tests could help identify people who will benefit most from preventative antibiotic treatment, in order to reduce the occurrence of tuberculosis, the researchers said. (IANS)