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Preeclampsia is a leading cause of premature birth, complicating up to 10% of all pregnancies worldwide.  Conservative estimates are that preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders lead to >75,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths globally each year. At present the only recourse to save the mother is premature delivery, which can have significant long-term health consequences for the baby.  In the United States, hypertensive disorders such as preeclampsia are responsible for 1/3 of all premature births.  The primary cause of preeclampsia is excessive expression of soluble protein by the placenta into the mothers' bloodstream.  This protein, sFlt1, interferes with the mother's kidney function, causing adema and hypertension.  Together with Dr. S. Ananth Karumanchi at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital/Harvard Medical School, who discovered the preeclampsia/sFlt1 connection, we are working to develop novel RNA-based therapeutic strategies to decrease sFlt1 production.  In the case of preeclampsia, a one-time treatment that could decrease sFlt1 levels by just 30-40% could allow significant pregnancy extension, resulting in substantially reduced morbidity and mortality for both mother and infant.


For more information, please visit Dr. Anastasia Khvorova and Dr. Melissa J. Moore's labs.