Pre-eclampsia affects up to 5% of pregnancies, and severe cases develop in about 1-2% of pregnancies.
About 1,000 babies die each year in the UK because of the condition, mostly because of complications of early delivery, such as severe breathing difficulties.
Pre-eclampsia affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks) or soon after their baby is delivered. Our research examines the abnormal maternal responses in the immune system and explores if we can predict and prevent Pre-eclampsia.
WHAT WE DO
Our work focuses on how extracellular vesicles released from the placenta into the maternal circulation cause the syndrome. The vesicles represent a novel form of feto maternal cell signaling and the characterization of these nano‐sized vesicles required new technologies to be adopted, in particular the pioneering use of Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis, in partnership with Nanosight Ltd. To progress the science, Ian Sargent founded the Oxford Extracellular Vesicle Interest Group.
We also examine clinical preeclampsia with particular reference to investigating placental biomarkers and their ability to predict preeclampsia. Two markers, Placental Like Growth Factor (PlGF) and soluble FMS-like Tyrosine Kinase 1 (sFlt-1) have been characterized in preeclampsia using platforms from Alere and Roche Diagnostics. Further studies using these markers in intervention studies are underway.
Manu Vatish also examines the role of these vesicles in gestational diabetes and other placentally derived diseases. He has initiated a new collaboration with Professor Buchan and Dr. Sutherland (Nuffield Department of Medicine) examining pericyte biology in the placenta.