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OHSU researchers discover possible method for early detection, prevention of premature birth

PORTLAND, Ore. — Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have discovered a method for detecting intra-amniotic infections in pregnant women using state-of-the-art methods. The finding may result in the development of a test for these hard-to-diagnose, but common infections during pregnancy. Early testing followed by treatment could likely prevent numerous pre-term births and the problems associated with them. The work is published in this week's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Preterm births are a major public health problem and are common in the United States with more than 10 percent of births taking place prematurely," explained Michael Gravett, M.D., chief of maternal-fetal medicine; a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine and an associate scientist at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center. "Premature births are responsible for a startling 80 percent of newborn deaths that are not associated with birth defects. By finding a method for quickly detecting one of the major cases of preterm labor and then treating it, we believe this finding could have a very significant impact and likely save young lives."

To conduct this research, Gravett and his colleague Srinivasa Nagalla, M.D., teamed animal and human studies with state-of-the-art proteomics research. The scientist's utilized cutting-edge mass spectrometry and bioinformatics methods to find biomarkers associated with detectable biological signs, for intra-amniotic infection.

"The result was the identification of proteins and peptides in both human and non-human primate amniotic fluid that signal an infection exists," said Nagalla, an associate professor of pediatrics in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of the Center for Biomarker Discovery. "The likely outcome of this finding is that a simple test may be developed to detect the presence of these biomarkers, the
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Contact: Jim Newman
newmanj@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
27-Jul-2004


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