Disease Overview
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Preeclampsia affects 5-8% of pregnancies, approximately 300,000

women in the United States every year. It is a leading cause of

maternal and infant illness and death, and premature birth.

Preeclampsia, diagnosed as early as the 20th week of pregnancy, is characterized by high blood pressure (hypertension), swelling from fluid retention (edema), and protein in the urine (proteinuria). Other common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision. Preeclampsia can be life-threatening to both the mother and the developing baby. Left untreated, preeclampsia could lead to several serious side effects, including HELLP syndrome, eclampsia, and death. Despite the clinical importance of preeclampsia, its pathogenesis remains poorly understood. The maternal symptoms have long been thought to be triggered by placental factors that enter the maternal circulation, as these symptoms are only maintained in the presence of the placenta. Several studies suggest that elevated circulating levels of one of these placental factors (sFlt-1) is an important and perhaps the main contributor to the maternal clinical manifestations of preeclampsia. sFlt-1 is an endogenous antiangiogenic protein that binds and antagonizes vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and placental growth factor (PlGF). VEGF is essential for maintenance of endothelial stability in mature vessels and is particularly important in the kidney, liver, and brain. These are the organs that are most affected in preeclampsia, likely due to inhibition of VEGF functions by elevated circulating levels of sFlt-1. The increase in circulating sFlt-1 levels precedes the onset of clinical disease, suggesting its involvement in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia, and its levels appear to correlate with disease severity. Removal of sFlt-1 using targeted apheresis could alleviate the high blood pressure associated with preeclampsia, prolong the pregnacy and result in the birth of a healthier baby with a better start in life.

Targeted Therapy for Preeclampsia

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Circulating sFlt-1 receptors bind to growth hormones before they are able to reach their target receptors. Preeclampsia