Clinical Trial at UAB tests drug to treat preeclampsia, may offer alternative to early delivery

Preeclampsia is one of the most dangerous problems that can develop in a pregnancy.It is characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine.Both mother and unborn child are in danger. The only cure is to deliver the baby early. A clinical trial is underway at University of Alabama at Birmingham and other medical facilities across the country that may provide another answer.In this country, somewhere between five and eight percent of pregnant women are diagnosed with preeclampsia. The clinical trial, PRESERVE-1, is testing a drug to prolong pregnancy and slow the progression of preeclampsia.The first patient enrolled in the trial is at UAB, Tonya Mobley."Anyway to give my baby more time to stay in to develop, I was willing to try," said Mobley.She was diagnosed with preeclampsia 25 weeks into her pregnancy."I could have gave birth within seven days after that at only 26 weeks."Dr. Alan Tita told her about a drug he's studying called ATryn. Mobley signed up to be the nation's first patient in phase three of the new clinical trial."It's been two weeks and two days now," Mobley said. "She's still inside and I'm still hearing everything is going good.""So we are targeting women who have early onset preeclampsia, up to 28 weeks, and currently we have almost nothing to offer these women," said Tita. "Preeclampsia is a top four cause of mortality, so death during a pregnancy and a major cause of death for babies."Tita says each year, as many as 20,000 women who develop preeclampsia have severe cases."Preeclampsia creates a conundrum," added Tita. "When it occurs very early, it tends to be severe and when it's severe it can lead to complications such as stroke, seizures, rupture of the liver and ultimately death of the mother. The treatment currently is to get out, to deliver the baby because delivery ultimately reverses the process."In this trial, ATryn, which typically is used to treat blood clots is given to preeclampsia patients through an IV. The UAB Women and Infants Center is one of 20 sites in the United States and Canada that will enroll approximately 120 patients in this trial study."If this medication is successful, we'll have the opportunity to slow the progression of preeclampsia or actually stop it in its tracks and that will offer doctors and their patients the opportunity to prolong their pregnancy," said Tita."I'll just be overwhelmed, I'll be like wow," said Mobley. "I helped with some of that. I was a part of that."At the hospital, ABC 3340 talked with a couple other women diagnosed with preeclampsia. Both are too far along in their pregnancies to be eligible for this study. Both said they would have been interested.Tita told me if this trial is successful, he hopes to extend the opportunity to women diagnosed later in their pregnancies.