Preeclampsia Breakthrough Drug Discovered! Nexium Can Treat Deadly Pregnancy Complication

By Christie Abagon , Jan 24, 2017 02:10 PM EST

Preeclampsia is a condition that pregnant women develop which is marked by high blood pressure in women who have never experienced high blood pressure in the past. This condition usually appears after the 20-week mark, but it can occur earlier. There was no known cure for preeclampsia - until today.

Researchers from Melbourne's Mercy Hospital found a major breakthrough in fatal pregnancy complication preeclampsia, ABC News said. They say that Nexium, a drug used to treat gastric reflux and indigestion, could stop the production of the toxins.

Nexium Was Able To Block The Two Key Toxins Of Preeclampsia

When a pregnant woman has preeclampsia, her placenta releases toxins through the body that can damage blood vessels and lead to organ failure. Dr Natalie Hannan from Melbourne's Mercy Hospital for Women said they were "astonished" by the effectiveness of Nexium (esomeprazole), The Daily Telegraph reported.

Scientists say that the drug was able to "block the two key toxins of preeclampsia, it basically stops their production completely from the preeclamptic placenta. "We get some a little amount still produced but what we can show is that the vessels exposed to these drugs are protected."

The Discovery Of The Drug Was 'Serendipitously' Stumbled Upon

Dr Hannan said that her research team has "serendipitously" stumbled upon the research which revealed that Nexium affected an antioxidant response in the gut. They then considered how it could work with preeclampsia cases. She said that they tested to see whether or not they could block the proteins and protect the mother's blood vessels.

What they found out was the drug was able to block the proteins from being released from the diseased placenta, as well as protect the mother's blood vessels. Dr Hannan said that in small animal studies in the lab, they could also prevent the disease becoming so significant at the end of the pregnancy

A clinical trial is currently running with the research team's collaborators in South Africa. About 120 pregnant women with preeclampsia will be treated with esomeprazole at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town. Further trials are also planned in Australia.

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