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

reby signaling the pregnant woman has an infection that needs treatment."

Previous research in non-human primates by Gravett and his colleagues demonstrates that when detected and treated with the correct combination of drugs, intra-amniotic infections can be suppressed and premature birth prevented.

In conducting this current research, the scientists used mass spectrometry analysis of non-human primates amniotic fluid to not only identify the protein biomarkers for intra-amniotic infections, but also the length of time between infection and the appearance of these biomarkers.

"Biomarkers for infection were detected in a very short amount of time, within only 12 hours of infection," explained Nagalla.

"In addition to animal studies, we studied pregnant women to confirm that the data gathered about non-human primate biomarkers correlates to humans," added Gravett. The biomarkers identified in the animal studies was also identified in 11 of the 11 patients with infections. In addition, testing of patients without infections resulted in no false positives."

While this research may result in significant health benefits, there are also likely economic impacts. The breakthrough technology is licensed to ProteoGenix, an Oregon biotechnology company founded by OHSU, Nagalla, Gravett, and other collaborators in 2002. The company employs proteomic and functional genomics technology to discover, develop, manufacture, and commercialize biomarkers for fetal, maternal, pediatric and adult applications.


Contact: Jim Newman
Oregon Health & Science University

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