Saving Hearts and Mothers At Birth

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Organization Location: 
Boston, MA, USA

One out of every 1000 births throughout Africa inexplicably leads to maternal heart failure, known as peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM). 20% of these women die, as do most of their newborn children. The only treatment for severe PPCM is cardiac transplantation-- not a feasible option in the developing world. The cause of PPCM remained unclear until recently. Our recently published work has identified endogenous anti-vascular factors as triggers for PPCM. We have now additionally discovered a class of medications that blocks secretion of these factors. We propose that these medications - which are cheap, generic, and widely available and distributable - can be used to treat PPCM. We will test this idea in two steps: First, as proof-of-concept, the medications will be tested as treatment for PPCM in our novel mouse models of PPCM. Second, as initial proof-of-efficacy in women, we will conduct a prospective clinical study to measure the effects of these medications on levels of anti-vascular factors in pregnant women. We intend the results of this study to lay the foundations for a randomized placebo-controlled trial, ideally supported by a Transition Grant, to be accomplished in Haiti, where the incidence of PPCM is as high as 1:300. Our approach is highly innovative because it stems from our novel discoveries into the pathogenesis of PPCM. No similar approaches exist. Successful treatment of PPCM would save thousands of maternal and infant lives throughout the developing world.

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