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Pre-eclampsia Study



Pre-eclampsia is a condition that causes high blood pressure (hypertension) in pregnant women and birthing people, as well as protein in the urine. Pre-eclampsia can be dangerous for both parent and baby and is the cause of around 1 in 8 stillbirths in the UK. It can only be cured completely by delivering the baby and the placenta, meaning that some babies are born prematurely, putting them at risk of both short-term complications and lifelong disability. Finding new treatments for pre-eclampsia is therefore vital to prevent pregnant women and birthing people from becoming seriously unwell.


Blood pressure is controlled by the contraction and relaxation of small blood vessels in the body. This process is coordinated by a series of ion channels – proteins that are embedded into the walls of cells, forming a passageway for things to move in and out. Our researchers think that one particular ion channel – called a BKCa channel – helps to relax blood vessels in pregnant women and birthing people, including those with pre-eclampsia.


In this project, Tommy's researchers are carrying out work in the lab to find out whether new drugs can activate BKCa channels and relax blood vessels taken from women and birthing people with pre-eclampsia. The team are also investigating whether treatment with these drugs can lower blood pressure in pregnant mice with high blood pressure, without harming the baby. This will tell us whether these drugs, or similar agents, could be a possible treatment for pre-eclampsia in the future.


Timescale: This project is ongoing and is due to complete in March 2025.


Teddy's Wish have contributed:


£12,500




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