A novel, simple method to find inexpensive drugs for preeclampsia treatment

Queen's University Belfast
Organization Location: 
Belfast, UK

Preeclampsia (PE) is a disease without targeted treatments. We propose a simple strategy to solve this problem: we will establish a cell-based assay to screen clinically-available, mostly generic and inexpensive, drugs that may have a therapeutic effect on PE. To do this, we will utilize new scientific knowledge, showing that anti-angiogenic factors released from the placenta trigger maternal vascular injury essential for the development of PE. The drugs to be screened are chosen as relatively safe to pregnant women based on FDA labels; most of them are already on pharmacy shelves in developing countries, being used for diseases other than PE. Since they have not previously been tested for efficacy in PE, it is very likely that some may have beneficial effects. Traditional drug discovery in pregnancy is lengthy, costly, and highly risky, deterring the biopharm industry. Our study is innovative: 1) “Repurposing” of clinical drugs substantially reduces development time and costs. Since all chosen drugs are already in clinic (most are of low cost), outcomes from this study will find an immediate impact to the less developed societies; 2) Selecting drugs based on FDA labels effectively reduces safety risks; and 3) Novel PE mechanisms provide feasibility for screening drugs using a simple model mimicking human pathology, translating science into practical clinical solutions in a most efficient way. Findings of new uses of old drugs will benefit pregnant women immediately especially in developing nations, shifting standard practice from the resource-consuming "reactive surveillance-based model" to effective treatment.

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