International Consortium Awarded €6M to Validate Pre-Eclampsia Early Detection Tests

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International Consortium Awarded €6M to Validate Pre-Eclampsia Early Detection Tests

Cork, Ireland and Ghent, Belgium – 5 November 2012 – The European Union has awarded 6 million euro of research funding under the FP7-health framework to a consortium which is working to bring a predictive test for pre-eclampsia to market. The consortium is coordinated by Prof Louise Kenny at University College Cork, Ireland and driven by two companies, Pronota NV of Belgium and Metabolomic Diagnostics Ltd. of Ireland, both at the forefront in the discovery and development of novel blood-borne biomarkers for disease prediction.

The IMPROvED (IMproved PRegnancy Outcomes via Early Detection) project will establish a multicentre clinical study to assess and refine two innovative prototype screening tests for this common late pregnancy complication. These tests are based on proteomic and metabolomic profiles developed by the two companies.

Prof Louise Kenny, co-ordinating principal investigator of IMPROvED commented: "Pre-eclampsia is a very serious condition. It affects almost one in 20 first time mothers and globally causes approximately 70,000 maternal deaths each year. We were therefore extremely pleased to see that researchers from different fields, centres and countries were enthusiastic about the IMPROvED project. Our ultimate goal is to develop a robust predictive test for pre-eclampsia and to improve the outcome of pregnancy for both mothers and their babies."

Katleen Verleysen, CEO of Pronota says: "A predictive test for pre-eclampsia, and in particular for preterm pre-eclampsia, will significantly improve maternal and fetal health. We are excited to be part of the consortium. The IMPROvED clinical trial will allow Pronota to progress its proteomics based risk stratification test."

Charles Garvey, CEO of Metabolomics Diagnostics added: "Metabolomic Diagnostics, is delighted to be involved in this innovative consortium. We believe that an early pregnancy-screening test can make a major contribution to maternal safety and this project, once completed, will help accelerate its adoption."

The four-year IMPROvED project will establish a high quality pregnancy biobank with blood samples collected from 5,000 first-time pregnant women recruited from at least five countries including Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. All recruitment centres involved (University College Cork, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Klinikum der Universität zu Köln, The University of Liverpool, Karolinska Institute, University of Keele) are major obstetric centres with a proven track record in the research and management of pre-eclampsia. The scientific value of the biobank will be enhanced by the collection and storage of comprehensive clinical data along with the samples (Medscinet AB, Sweden). Dedicated and independent teams of statisticians (Region Hovedstaden, Denmark) and economics (University of Groningen) will ascertain clinical and health economical validity of the developed proteomics and metabolomics tests.  

Prof Phil Baker (Keele University), co-principal investigator, added: "An effective screening test will allow antenatal care to be tailored to an individual woman's risk, such that at risk women receive the best possible care – so diminishing the burden of this potentially devastating disease. The approval of IMPROvED is a strong endorsement of European researchers and is recognising the importance of enhancing maternal and fetal health."