Delivering New Diagnostic Tools and Better Treatments for Pregnancy-Related Disorders
Preeclampsia affects up to 8 per cent of all pregnancies and is the third most common cause of maternal death in North America. This unpredictable disorder causes dangerously high blood pressure in pregnancy, and is commonly associated with serious complications like kidney damage and liver dysfunction.
Mothers who experience preeclampsia need to deliver prematurely, a situation that presents health risks for their babies. They are also at increased risk of developing a metabolic syndrome later in life. Currently, there is no way to prevent or cure pre-eclampsia, and few tools to diagnose it.
But Dr. Isabella Caniggia, Canada Research Chair in Placental Biology in Pregnancy and Disease, is trying to change that. By bridging molecular science and human health research, she is uncovering the underlying causes of problems related to placental development and gaining insights needed to improve pregnancy care and outcomes.
Preeclampsia’s link to the placenta is clear because once the placenta is removed at delivery, preeclampsia symptoms disappear. Caniggia and her research team are exploring this link in innovative ways. By testing a hunch that a predisposition to preeclampsia is triggered by problems in the molecular and cellular machinery that detect oxygen levels, Caniggia hopes to come up with new targeting strategies to reverse the disorder.
A tireless champion of women’s health and health care, Caniggia is influencing research and maternal care worldwide, ensuring better pregnancies and lives for mothers, babies and their families.