While preeclampsia is said to be a sudden pregnancy complication that is known to endanger the health and even the lives of both the mother and baby, it can be simply treated with low doses of aspirin starting from the 16th week of pregnancy.
The newly discovered small non-coding RNAs could be leveraged to formulate a diagnostic blood test for the condition, as existing approaches are limited to prior pregnancies reference, blood pressure levels, and other general symptoms.
TAU Sackler School of Medicine researcher Dr Noam Shomron said: “But we sought a definitive biomarker that appears in a patient’s blood as early as the first trimester, before any symptoms appear.
“Our findings form the basis for a simple blood test that would predict preeclampsia and, in turn, allow doctors to provide treatment that would prevent the very onset of the disease.”
During the study, the blood samples from numerous pregnant UK women in their first trimester were examined over a period of six years.
The researchers selected 75 specific blood samples, 35 from women who went on to develop preeclampsia, and 40 from those who had healthy pregnancies.
After using next-generation sequencing on the RNA molecules obtained from the plasma of these samples, the team found the new biomarkers through analysing the sequencing data with computational methods such as machine learning algorithms.
TAU Sackler School of Medicine researcher Liron Yoffe said: “We identified 25 small RNA molecules that were differentially expressed between the preeclampsia and the control groups.
“Based on those RNA molecules, we then developed a model for the classification of preeclampsia samples.”
Yoffe further added that the findings indicate the potential use of circulating small RNA molecules to predict preeclampsia early in the first trimester.