Color-Change Urine Test Could Spot Preeclampsia Early | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 92 Issue 29 | p. 29 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 21, 2014

Color-Change Urine Test Could Spot Preeclampsia Early

Test detects misfolded proteins, which may play a role in the disease’s development
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: preeclampsia, pregnancy, amyloid, prion, biomarkers

Once preeclampsia sets in during pregnancy, the only way to stop the risk of harm is to deliver the baby, no matter how premature. However, detection yardsticks—high blood pressure and high protein levels in urine—are not necessarily specific to preeclampsia or easy to monitor in the developing world. According to a study, a color-change urine test with the dye Congo Red might complement established tests to provide a clear early picture of preeclampsia (Sci. Transl. Med. 2014, DOI: 10.1126/­scitranslmed.3008808). Irina A. Buhimschi of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues used Congo Red to test the idea that misfolded proteins play a role in preeclampsia. Alzheimer’s disease researchers have long used Congo Red to detect misfolded aggregates of amyloid-β. Sure enough, Buhimschi’s team found protein clumps in urine samples from hundreds of women with preeclampsia. Biochemical data suggest the clumps may play a role in the disease’s development, so Buhimschi thinks preeclampsia should be classified as a protein-misfolding disorder like Alzheimer’s. The team has filed a patent application on their diagnostic technology. “The diagnostic potential is really big—depending on how specific it turns out to be for preeclampsia,” says Robert Moir, who studies amyloid-β at Harvard Medical School.

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