New research funded by March of Dimes has found biomarkers in maternal blood that accurately identified pregnant women who would go on to deliver babies up to two months prematurely. The findings were published in the journal Science. Additionally, using those same blood samples, the team found biomarkers in maternal blood that could estimate gestational age or delivery date with comparable accuracy to ultrasound, but possibly at lower cost.
"To date, no test on the market can reliably predict which pregnant moms will go on to preterm labor. March of Dimes is committed to finding new solutions and to giving all babies the best possible start in life" says the President.
The principal investigator of the March of Dimes described the noninvasive blood test approach as a way of "eavesdropping on a conversation" between the mother, the fetus and the placenta, without disturbing the pregnancy and added that today's findings affirm the existence of a "transcriptomic clock of pregnancy" that could serve as a new way to assess the gestational age of a fetus. "By measuring cell-free RNA in the circulation of the mother, we can observe changing patterns of gene activity that happen normally during pregnancy, and identify disruptions in the patterns that may signal to doctors that unhealthy circumstances like preterm labor and birth are likely to occur”. "With further study, we might be able to identify specific genes and gene pathways that could reveal some of the underlying causes of preterm birth, and suggest potential targets for interventions to prevent it."
In two separate cohorts of women, all at elevated risk of delivering preterm, the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center team identified a set of cell-free RNA (cfRNA) transcripts that accurately classified women who delivered preterm up to two months in advance of labor. In another cohort of healthy pregnant women, the team found that measurement of nine cfRNA transcripts in maternal blood predicted gestational age with comparable accuracy to ultrasound.
The researchers noted that both tests will require validation in larger, blinded clinical trials.
Blood test for premature birth!
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