The IMPROvED study will develop early pregnancy screening tests for pre-eclampsia.

What is Pre-eclampsia?


Pre-eclampsia is a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period, affecting both the mother and the unborn baby. Experienced in at least 5-8% of all pregnancies, it is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms. 

Typically, pre-eclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or middle to late pregnancy) and up to six weeks postpartum (after delivery), though in rare cases it can occur earlier than 20 weeks. Proper prenatal care is essential in order to diagnose and manage pre-eclampsia. Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) and toxemia are other, outdated terms for preeclampsia. HELLP syndrome and eclampsia (seizures) are other variants of pre-eclampsia. 

Globally, pre-eclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death. By conservative estimates, these disorders are responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths each year.

What is the IMPROvED Project?

The main aim of the IMPROvED consortium is to develop and validate two prototype early pregnancy screening tests for the pregnancy complication pre-eclampsia. Using a multi-centre hospital-based approach, representative of different healthcare models, we are building a high calibre pregnancy biobank for European pregnancy researchers.

How does IMPROvED work?

The goal of IMPROvED is to develop two prototype screening tests for pre-eclampsia.

We measure metabolomic and proteomic biomarkers, which we have identified as predictors of disease, and compare these measurements with clinical data from mothers. The result will be a simple algorithm which will determine risk status in mothers and babies.

On the basis of our work to date, the two blood tests we have created have the potential to predict pre-eclampsia risk with an unprecedented accuracy.

Baby massage

IMPROvED is supported by a network of talent which includes 4 small enterprises and 8 academic institutions.

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