Pre-eclampsia is a condition which affects up to 3% of pregnancies in the UK; in the developing world the proportion of pre-eclamptic pregnancies is as high as 10%. Across the world, pre-eclampsia accounts for 40,000 maternal deaths and almost 1 million perinatal deaths annually. There is good evidence for an inherited component to pre-eclampsia, although tracking down the responsible genetic variants has proved challenging.
The European Union, as part of the Health Theme of Framework Programme 7, has recently awarded 6 million Euro to fund a project co-ordinated by the University of Nottingham to conduct the largest study of the genetics of pre-eclampsia ever undertaken. Dr Linda Morgan, Dr Sally Chappell and Prof Noor Kalsheker from the School of Molecular Medical Sciences, together with Prof Fiona Broughton Pipkin from the School of Clinical Sciences, and strong support from Research and Graduate Services, are leading the Nottingham team, building on the strong record in this university for pre-eclampsia research. Collaborators involved in the search for maternal and fetal susceptibility genes for pre-eclampsia are based in Europe (UK, Finland, Norway and Iceland) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan). Studies in European populations can exploit the extensive bioinformatic resources available through the HapMap and 1000 Genomes projects, but relatively little is known about the genetic architecture in these Central Asian populations. The InterPregGen project will therefore undertake whole genome sequencing of Central Asian subjects, analogous to the 1000 Genomes Project, to provide a long-term bioinformatic resource for future research in these populations.
The project will run for 4½ years, with the aim of identifying genes which will give new insights into the pathophysiology of pre-eclampsia, leading to novel strategies for its prevention and treatment.
More information is available on the study website: www.interpreggen.org
Posted on Friday 13th April 2012