The University of Alabama Birmingham has enrolled the first participants in a Phase III clinical trial for a drug to treat preeclampsia in pregnant women. Preeclampsia is a condition that raises blood pressure and damages internal organs of women after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It can restrict blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the fetus. If left untreated, the condition can result in both infant and maternal mortality. The condition exists in from 5 percent to 8 percent of all pregnancies and the rate of preeclampsia has increased 25 percent over the last quarter century.
If the drug proves successful, it would serve to reduce the number of preterm births and the rate of infant mortality. The drug – Atryn – will be administered to patients with preeclampsia during their 24th to 28th weeks of pregnancy.
Alan Tita, professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Alabama Birmingham and one of the lead investigators for the clinical trial, stated that “currently, when patients have preeclampsia, all we have to offer is delivery of the baby as the ultimate treatment. For the target group, women in their 24th to 28th week of pregnancy, this drug could be a substantial advance in the treatment of preeclampsia and significantly improve outcomes for mother and baby.”
Dr. Tita, who earned his medical degree at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon and completed his residency at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, says that “as a physician faced with the difficult challenge of managing preeclampsia early in pregnancy, I see firsthand the significant need for new medicines to safely extend pregnancy and give a baby more time to develop in utero.”
Below is a video of Dr. Tita discussing the clinical trial.