BY CARYN ROGERS, SCIENCE WRITER
Preeclampsia's subtle symptoms share so many commonalities with other conditions that a diagnosis can be delayed or missed. The Preeclampsia Foundation advocates for what is known as "translational" work on new screening and diagnostic tests, which attempts to quickly turn basic bench research into bedside applications. In December, the Preeclampsia Foundation's Executive Director, Eleni Tsigas, sent a video message of support for an Irish research team's bid for a grant to fund a research center. Now a substantial new funding announcement has been made.
The Science Foundation of Ireland announced late last month a considerable investment of €300million (taxpayer and industry-supported) that will fund seven new centers for translational research, including the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (NFANT), hub based at University College Cork. This bench-to-bedside translational research center will focus on creating novel pregnancy screening and diagnostic tests, as well as new monitoring methods.
New screening tests could predict those likely to develop the syndrome, which would encourage closer monitoring and more intensive care.
Metabolic markers identified in a screening test might be targets for therapeutic intervention. A diagnostic test would eliminate that period when doctors are trying to puzzle out whether or not we really have preeclampsia, or just have something else with similar symptoms. New ways to monitor for the syndrome might provide advance warning and maybe even reveal patterns that we don't recognize right now that lead to further treatments or basic research findings.
This new funding gives researchers the opportunity to advance this bench-to-bedside research quickly.