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Letters to the Editor Issue 245

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 245 - April 2018

New Research Uncovers How Cancer Stem Cells Drive Triple-Negative Breast Cancer


Findings published in Nature Communications identify stem cell survival pathway, which may serve as a potential target for new breast cancer therapies

A team of researchers in the United States has identified a new stem cell pathway that allows a highly aggressive form of breast cancer - triple-negative breast cancer - to thrive, with their findings potentially pointing the way towards new, more effective treatments in cases where hormone therapy has proved unsuccessful.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer blocks cancer cells from interacting with hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, which fuel the cancer cells to grow and spread. However, triple-negative breast cancer cells lack the receptors needed to bind to these hormones and growth factors. Without such receptors, typical therapy does not work, contributing to poor survival rates for women with this subtype of breast cancer.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute believe that an aggressive population of cancer cells, called cancer stem cells, is at the heart of why many cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer, are challenging to treat. Cancer stem cells self-replicate, rapidly grow and spread, and change their phenotype in response to the tumor environment.

In findings published in Nature Communications, the new study led by Justin Lathia, Ph.D., and Ofer Reizes, Ph.D. identifies a never-before described survival pathway in cancer stem cells that may serve as a potential target for new triple-negative breast cancer therapies.

“Triple-negative breast cancer is resistant to treatment and has a high recurrence rate,” Reizes said. “This aggressive subtype accounts for about 15-20 percent of breast cancers. Our findings are at an early stage but we are hopeful that targeting these cancer stem cells will lead to new treatments to allow women to be treated successfully and improve their outcomes.”

The team studied a protein called connexin 26 (Cx26), which belongs to the connexin class of proteins. While once believed to suppress tumors, recent research suggests that connexins may actually support tumor progression by aiding in cell-to-cell communication.

The researchers compared healthy breast tissue to triple-negative breast cancer tissue and found that Cx26 is the most highly expressed connexin in diseased tissue vs. normal breast tissue. They also observed that Cx26 levels are higher in cancer stem cells than non-cancer stem cells and that the protein is expressed inside the cell rather than on the cell surface. The researchers also found that Cx26 is linked to two other proteins known to independently promote tumor maintenance and growth.

“Additional research is needed, but this discovery suggests that inhibiting Cx26 and the related pathway may be a promising new strategy for stopping or preventing triple-negative breast cancer stem cells from self-renewing and spreading,” Lathia said. “It may also offer a target for diagnostic testing that helps clinicians predict health outcomes and relapse-free survival for patients with a specific cancer type.”

This study was supported by National Cancer Institute grant (R21 CA191263). Reizes holds the Laura J. Fogarty Endowed Chair for Uterine Cancer Research.


Praveena S. Thiagarajan, Maksim Sinyuk, Soumya M. Turaga, Erin E. Mulkearns-Hubert, James S. Hale, Vinay Rao, Abeba Demelash, Caner Saygin, Arnab China, Tyler J. Alban, Masahiro Hitomi, Luke A. Torre-Healy, Alvaro G. Alvarado, Awad Jarrar, Andrew Wiechert, Valery Adorno-Cruz, Paul L. Fox, Benjamin C. Calhoun, Jun-Lin Guan, Huiping Liu, Ofer Reizes & Justin D. Lathia. Cx26 drives self-renewal in triple-negative breast cancer via interaction with NANOG and focal adhesion kinase. Nature Communications 9: 578. 2018. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-02938-1 .

Source and Contact

Michael Wallis, +971.50.458.1844,

Angie Kiska, +1.216.444.6002,

Cleveland Clinic Corporate Communications

Tel: +1.216.444.0141


All Homeopathic Products Now Illegal?

by Joseph Mercola DO FACN

Republished from  All Homeopathic Products Now Illegal?

About 5 million U.S. adults and 1 million US children use homeopathy every year, and the remedies are known to be “generally safe and unlikely to cause severe adverse reactions,” according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.1 Yet, if the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues on its latest crusade, this natural health modality may soon be much harder to come by.

In a draft guidance document released in December 2017, the FDA takes aim at homeopathic remedies, or as they put it, “drug products labelled as homeopathic.”2,3 In a reversal of a long-standing decision to treat homeopathic remedies differently from other drugs, the FDA has now labelled virtually all of these products as “new drugs” that are “subject to FDA enforcement action at any time.”

FDA Declares Homeopathic Drugs Illegal, Plans to Ramp Up Enforcement Actions

While deaths from drugs like opioids are now a public health crisis, homeopathy has maintained a much lower, and presumably safer, profile. Yet, the FDA is using its limited resources to target the latter, citing a need to “protect consumers who choose to use homeopathic products.” Why now? The FDA also cited a “large uptick in products labelled as homeopathic that are being marketed for a wide array of diseases and conditions,” to the extent that homeopathic products are now a close to $3 billion industry.4

Perhaps that’s $3 billion too much for Big Pharma, FDA’s cozy partner in crime. “[I]n one fell swoop, the FDA has declared that virtually every single homeopathic drug on the market is being sold illegally,” the Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH USA) wrote5 — and it’s not an exaggeration. In essence, the FDA’s guidance reads:6

  1. Any homeopathic drug that has not been considered “generally recognized as safe and effective” (GRAS/E) is considered a new drug;
  2. FDA has not determined that any homeopathic drugs are GRAS/E;
  3. A new drug cannot be marketed unless it goes through the FDA’s approval process;
  4. No homeopathic drugs have gone through FDA approval nor can any producer afford to take them through the approval process.

The FDA then states that it’s proposing a “new, risk-based enforcement approach” and first plans to target the “unapproved drug products labeled as homeopathic that have the greatest potential to cause risk to patients.” This includes:7

Products with reported safety concerns Products that contain or claim to contain ingredients associated with potentially significant safety concerns
Products for routes of administration other than oral and topical Products intended to be used for the prevention or treatment of serious and/or life-threatening diseases and conditions
Products for vulnerable populations Products that do not meet standards of quality, strength or purity as required under the law


FDA Does About-Face, ‘Penalizes an Entire Industry’

The draft guidance is a complete turnaround from the FDA’s prior stance on homeopathic remedies, which stated, under the 1988 Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) 400.400, Conditions Under Which Homeopathic Drugs May be Marketed, they did not need to get FDA approval prior to coming on the market. Instead, the ingredients in homeopathic remedies were to be verified by the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS). As noted by law firm Venable:8

“Essentially, the HPUS creates a monograph for homeopathic drugs to follow, not dissimilar to the OTC drug monographs that FDA has developed for allopathic drugs. Accordingly, by virtue of an ingredient’s inclusion in the HPUS, the ingredient has already been closely examined and determined to be safe and effective by the HPCUS [Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States].

“Compliance with the HPUS functions as a premarket review of safety and effectiveness in the homeopathic context. By classifying homeopathic drugs as unapproved new drugs, the FDA is requiring a second showing of safety and effectiveness, a step that is unnecessary, not to mention impractical, given that the Agency intends to hold homeopathic products to an allopathic standard that is inappropriate, given the nature of homeopathic products.”

Further, it was by the FDA’s own deliberate decision that homeopathic drugs were excluded from former drug approval processes and intended to be a separate category. Venable continued:9

“The FDA deliberately excluded homeopathic drugs from both the Drug Efficacy Study Implementation (DESI) review (the process by which all drugs approved between 1938 and 1962 were retrospectively evaluated by the FDA for effectiveness) and the OTC Drug Review in 1972 (the process used to develop OTC drug monographs for allopathic drugs), deciding instead in the latter case to regulate homeopathic products separately because of their uniqueness.

“By withdrawing the CPG and classifying all homeopathic drugs as unapproved drugs subject to FDA drug approval, the FDA is now requiring higher regulatory thresholds for OTC homeopathic drugs than are applicable to allopathic OTC drugs, many of which are permitted to be sold pursuant to the FDA monograph system. This move in effect penalizes an entire industry for the Agency’s 1972 decision.”

FTC Targeted Homeopathy in 2016

The FDA isn’t the first government agency to target this centuries’ old natural medicine system. In a notice filed in November 2016, the FTC stated that in order for homeopathic remedies to claim they are effective, their makers must provide proof. If no proof is provided, the remedies must state there is “no scientific evidence that the product works.”

In order to not mislead consumers, the FTC further stated that homeopathic remedies lacking sufficient proof must communicate to consumers that “the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.”10 Dana Ullman MPH CCH, one of the leading advocates for homeopathy in the US, said at the time:11

“Considering the long-time safety history of homeopathic medicines, it is surprising and even shocking that the FTC would consider proposing new regulations now.

One cannot help but wonder who or what is pulling their strings … policies … commonly result from powerful economic forces at play … it is clear that this governmental agency is ignoring important scientific evidence, and one must wonder if they are protecting Big Pharma from competition more than protecting the consumer.”

Does Homeopathy Work?

Based on the theory that “like cures like,” or the Law of Similars, homeopathy was founded by German physician Dr Samuel Hahnemann. The idea is that health conditions can be healed by treating a person with minute doses of a substance that would produce similar symptoms to their health condition if given in larger doses.

Homeopathy’s other guiding principle is that of the minimum dose, which is based on the premise that the more a substance is diluted, the more potent homeopathic remedy it becomes, known as the “law of infinitesimals.” Homeopathic remedies may be made from plants, minerals or other substances and are commonly administered in pellet form, dissolved under the tongue. A number of intriguing studies suggest homeopathy is effective and safe for a variety of ailments, including flu. According to Ullman:

“The use of a homeopathic medicine called Oscillococcinum is an example of a remedy that can be effective for many people with the flu, though clinical experience suggests that it is most effective when used within 48 hours of getting flu symptoms. Although most homeopathic medicines are made from the plant or mineral kingdom, Oscillococcinum is unusual in that it is made from the heart and liver of a duck.”

In one study, nearly twice as many patients who were given Oscillococcinum recovered from the flu within 48 hours as those given a placebo.12 Further, Ullman noted:

“A different group of researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind study involving 372 patients (188 treated with Oscillococcinum and 187 with placebo) of both sexes, ranging in age from 12 to 60, who presented rectal temperature ≥ 100.4 F, muscle pains, headache, or at least one of the following symptoms: shivering, chest pain, spine pain, coughing, irritation of nasal mucosa or feeling of malaise.13

“Patients received three tubes of Oscillococcinum or placebo each day (morning, noon and night) for three days. The results of this trial show a highly statistically significant difference between the two groups, for what concerns disappearance of symptoms after 48 hours (19.2 percent in the Oscillococcinum group versus 17.1 percent in the placebo group) and improvement in symptoms (43.7 percent versus 38.6 percent for placebo).”

Additional research shows homeopathy’s promising role in the following conditions:

In patients with allergies, those using homeopathy reported improvements in nasal airflow compared with a placebo group.

With homeopathic treatment, the researchers described a “clear, significant and clinically relevant improvement in nasal inspiratory peak flow, similar to that found with topical steroids.”14

Homeopathy significantly reduced the severity and duration of chemotherapy-induced stomatitis (swelling and sores in the mouth) in children.15

Homeopathic medicine was effective in treating acute childhood diarrhoea, decreasing both the duration of the diarrhoea and the number of stools per day.16,17

Homeopathy has positive effects in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), particularly in the areas of behavioral and cognitive functions.18

Homeopathy lessened tender point pain and improved quality of life in people with fibromyalgia.19

Homeopathic was effective in treating the early stages of vitiligo in a report of 14 cases20


FDA Continues to Crack Down on Natural Substances, Protect Big Pharma

The FDA’s new push to regulate homeopathic products is eerily reminiscent of their recent crackdown on the plant kratom. Leaves from the kratom tree have been used for pain relief for hundreds of years, but scientists now know they contain compounds that target the brain similarly to opioids, helping to relieve pain. It appears the plant may be safer than opioids for pain relief and could even act as a tool to help those suffering from opioid withdrawal.

In November 2017, however, rather than targeting the prescription opioids that are the root of the opioid epidemic, the FDA issued a public health advisory regarding risks associated with kratom use, suggesting that its usage could “expand the opioid epidemic.” What this comes down to, for some, is the right to choose what form of “medicine” to put in your body. As Dr Lee Hieb, an orthopaedic surgeon and past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, wrote in WND:21

“I’m not here to tout any particular over-the-counter remedy, but who gave the FDA total ability to limit what we can take into our bodies, while virtually forcing us to be given what they prescribe? It’s none of their business whether a ‘homeopathic remedy’ is worthless.

“That’s an issue of commerce and truth in advertising. I, for one, want the freedom to research and decide for myself what supplements to take, even if my supplements ultimately do me no good. (Many do a great deal of good as Big Pharma knows only too well.)”

People have the right to choose their treatment, and doctors (many of whom admit to prescribing placebos to their patients) also retain the right to offer treatments they deem useful, whether it be homeopathy or another remedy.

As for the FDA’s new draft guidance on homeopathic drugs, it’s attempting to discredit such remedies’ proven healing powers before their mechanisms of action have even been fully understood. If you want to express your opinion on the matter, the FDA is accepting comments from the public until March 30, 2018.

Sources and References

1National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Homeopathy

2, 4.  U.S. FDA December 18, 2017

3, 7.  U.S. FDA Draft Guidance December 2017

5, 6.  Alliance for Natural Health USA January 11, 2018

8, 9 . Venable December 22, 2017

10.  U.S. Federal Trade Commission

11.  The Huffington Post November 27, 2016

12.  Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1989 Mar;27(3):329-35.

13.  British Homoeopathic journal 87(2):69-76

14.  BMJ. 2000 Aug 19; 321(7259): 471–476.

15.  Cancer August 1, 2001

16.  Pediatrics. 1994 May;93(5):719-25.

17.  Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2003 Mar;22(3):229-34.

18.  Eur J Pediatr. 2005 Dec;164(12):758-67.

19.  Rheumatology (Oxford). 2004 May;43(5):577-82.

20.  Am J Case Rep. 2017 Dec 2;18:1276-1283.

21.  WND December 22, 2017

Acknowledgement Citation

Republished from


Importance to Understand Health Care Product Claim of “Boosting Immunity”.

As an immunologist and from a patient welfare standpoint, I am concerned that many different substances are claimed to “boost immunity” because ‘boosting’ of some parts of the immune system may be quite harmful.

There are many different parts to the body’s immune system. Some are included as elements of the adaptive immune system while others, such as cytokines comprise elements of the innate or non-adaptive immune system. Some important considerations are listed.

Firstly, uncontrolled activity of the immunological cytokine IL-2 for example is of major concern. Increased activity of IL-2 may be very dangerous and may even result in death[1] while reduced activity of IL-2 is a cause of development of auto-immunity.

Secondly, there are a number of different members of the IL-1 family.[2, 3] Some are pro-inflammatory, some are important antagonists for the function of other cytokines. IL-1F7 has quite a different function. Thus, it is important to be able to target specific forms of IL-1. This is not possible with the current alternative health care agents that are designed only to “boost immunity”.

Another cytokine, interferon gamma is well recognised for its anti-viral activity. However, it is now recognised that this cytokine can promote cancer[4] and even help kill cancer patients more quickly by promoting cachexia. More importantly, disturbing the balance of cytokines, particularly interferon gamma is strongly associated with tumour growth and hastening of the fatal consequences of tumorigenesis.[5] So, disturbing the balance of cytokine activity can have quite harmful consequences unless tightly controlled.

There are other concerns associated with uncontrolled “boosting” of immunity. Non-specific boosting of immunity has the potential to trigger the ability to produce IgE antibodies which can result in development of various allergies including asthma.

Non-specific boosting of immunity also has the potential to promote many different types of auto-immune diseases. It also has the potential to enhance inflammation, making many diseases worse.

There are many different types of alternative health care products that are claimed to “boost immunity”. Thus, for safety, it is important to understand which parts of the immune systems are actually targeted as part of the “boosting” process.

I have developed a course for those who wish to know much more about the role of each of the different components of immunity in health and disease.  My email








People are Dying from the Flu

by Dr Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Reprinted from Dr Mark Sircus AC OMD DM(P) People are Dying from the Flu

Dr David Brownstein writes,For over 20 years, I have been writing and lecturing about how the flu vaccine fails nearly all who get it.” Now he says, “Why would anyone get a flu vaccine when it fails 99% who receive it? Why would any physician prescribe a therapy, which is associated with serious adverse effects, that fails 99% who receive it? Why are health care workers forced to receive a flu vaccine when it is consistently shown to fail nearly 99% who get them? And, there is not a single well-done study showing that vaccinating health care workers with the flu vaccine protects against the spread of flu.” (See far below, the science and research from Cochrane[1], which is a global independent network of researchers in more than 130 countries that supports Brownstein’s statements).

These are important questions during this year’s flu season. 1 of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu, tying the highest level of the virus seen in the US since the swine flu of 2009. "This is a difficult season, and we can’t predict how much longer the severe season will last," said Dr Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC. Deaths from influenza and pneumonia, which are closely tied to each other in the winter months, were also responsible for 1 of every 10 deaths last week, and that’s "likely to rise."

Why are People Dying from the Flu?

It’s happened even to those outside the at-risk groups. As far as flu seasons go, experts are saying the levels of visits to hospitals and emergency rooms for this one are comparable to the 2009 swine flu. As such, reports of otherwise healthy or young people dying from the infection are flying around. The stories have been shocking, especially because many of these people were outside the high-risk groups for flu-related death that include pregnant women, small children and the elderly.

The flu is a battleground where people die, just as they do in wars. On this battleground we have what are called the vaccine wars. We also have pharmaceutical terrorism and rank and file doctors who are threatened constantly if they step outside the “approved” medical paradigm. People die from the flu because the medical system is wrong, and in the case of the flu literally—dead wrong.

Are the medical authorities honest with the American public? Absolutely not. Flu Shot Remains Most Dangerous Vaccine Based on Injuries and Deaths Compensated by Government. Meaning some of these deaths being reported are from the vaccine itself. The Department of Justice issues a report on vaccine injuries and deaths every quarter to the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines. There are 211 cases for vaccine injuries and deaths for the period 5/16/2015 through 8/15/2015. 65 of the 86 settlements by the government were for injuries and deaths due to the flu shot, and the majority of flu shot injuries were for Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

Dr Brownstein is a noble and certainly a brave doctor. If we lived in a reasonable world his voice on the flu vaccine would have been heard by now by the CDC. But no, they have not been listening to anyone that even hints their religion on vaccines is in any way or part wrong. Just ten days ago I published these words, “The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) never learns because they do not want to learn. And now that we are right in the middle of flu season people will pay with their lives.”

Vaccines are the greatest failure of our times, defended at all cost by the most arrogant men and women who have ever walked the earth. They are right and everyone else is wrong. That’s the religion and basic defence used by vaccinationists world over and now global warming fanatics have taken up the same style. It is the rage of our times not only not to listen but to make the other guy wrong and into a moron.

It worked until the Autism disaster struck a terrible number of families who organized, protested and sued the United States government. Now vaccination rates are tumbling and where they are now introducing the new vaccine for dengue, most recently in the Philippines, vaccination rates are plunging because parents are scared and losing trust in health officials after 14 people died after receiving their shots.

Original research on autism centred on mercury used as a preservative in vaccines; however there are many sources of mercury contamination that affect children with environmental and dental sources topping all lists. However, the attention has shifted to aluminium, also a common agent in most vaccines. Recent research undertaken by Professor Christopher Exley and his team from Keele University in Staffordshire leaves parents with little doubt that aluminium plays a crucial part in the brain tissue of individuals with autism. Their study determined that the brain tissue of individuals who had died with a diagnosis of autism contained the highest levels of aluminium of any other brain tissue that had been examined by the team.

Vaccine Alternatives

Hardly makes sense to talk about alternatives to the flu vaccine because what is an alternative to something that does not work, and in the end, is a pure expression of cruelty and evil arrogance. I would like to see anyone stand up with a straight face and say, “I think it wonderful to inject babies with mercury and aluminium metals.”

Recently I published about how inhaled hydrogen gas, especially, when administered with oxygen, will save the day in medical centres, and at home too when one has a severe flu. It will be much harder to die of the flu if you are hooked up to a hydrogen inhaler.

There are other excellent therapies to avoid the worst symptoms and pains of the flu. Jumping on a Biomat when suffering from the flu is like jumping into heaven. Believe me, there is no place to be when one is suffering terribly from the flu than laying and sleeping on a far-infrared mattress.

Five years ago, I published an intelligent protocol against influenza that involves the use of the basic emergency room and intensive care medicines that are an integral part of Natural Allopathic Medicine. Magnesium chloride, iodine, sodium bicarbonate, selenium, vitamin C and vitamin D3 (if possible through sun exposure) are all medicines that help patients resist and even avoid dangerous complications from the flu. Now hydrogen combined with oxygen tops the list of medical interventions that make getting the flu not only less painful but less dangerous.

Real Science Says they are Dead Wrong

Sustaining Dr Brownstein is Cochrane[2], which is a global independent network of researchers in more than 130 countries who strive to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of illness. They do not take Big Pharma money.  Therefore, their studies deserve attention when they are released. Brownstein blogs:

“On February 1, 2018, the Cochrane group released its latest findings on the flu vaccine.[1] The scientists studied randomized, controlled trials comparing the flu vaccine with placebo or no intervention. They included 52 clinical trials of over 80,000 people assessing the safety and effectiveness of flu vaccines in healthy adults. The studies were conducted between 1969 and 2009.

“The authors found that flu vaccines probably reduced influenzas in healthy adults from 2.3% without vaccination to 0.9% with. That means that the difference between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated is 1.4% or 0.014. Therefore, 71 people would need to be treated with the flu vaccine to prevent one case (1/1.4%). In other words, the flu vaccine did nothing for 70 out of 71 who received it. That means this study found the flu vaccine failed 99% (71/72).

“There was more bad news for the flu vaccine in this study. The flu vaccine is touted as decreasing the risk of hospitalizations from the flu. I’m not sure how that happens since the vaccine has never been shown to be very effective against preventing the flu. In this study they found the risk of hospitalization in those that received the flu vaccine declined from 14.7% to 14.1%. That is a 0.6% decline. That means the flu vaccine fails over 99% (165/166) in preventing hospitalizations. Furthermore, the independent researchers found the flu vaccine “…may lead to little or no small reduction in days off work.” To make matter worse, the flu vaccine was shown to cause an increase in fever from 1.5% to 2.3%. Oy vey.

“Folks, the flu vaccine is a disaster. I can understand why President Trump does not get the flu shot. I cannot understand why anyone would allow themselves to be injected with a failed flu vaccine,” concludes Dr Brownstein.”


[1]  Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2018. Feb. 1,2:CD001269

[2]  Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2018. Feb. 1,2:CD001269

Acknowledgement Citation

Reprinted from Dr Mark Sircus AC OMD DM(P) People are Dying from the Flu


Small Non-Coding RNAs in Development of Preeclampsia Diagnostic Blood Test

Preeclampsia, a sudden pregnancy complication that can interfere with the blood flow to the placenta and possibly to the foetus, can lead to low birth weight, prematurity and even death. It is also a leading cause of maternal mortality in the US. A new Tel Aviv University study identifies novel molecular biomarkers of preeclampsia, signalling the potential for an early diagnostic blood test.

Research for the study was led by Dr Noam Shomron and Prof Moshe Hod and conducted by Liron Yoffe and other lab members, all affiliated with TAU's Sackler School of Medicine, and in collaboration with Prof Kypros Nicolaides of King's College, London. The conclusions were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

"Up to eight percent of pregnant women may contract preeclampsia during their second or third trimester," Dr Shomron says. "This is a serious disease that endangers the health, sometimes even the lives, of the mother and the foetus. We don't know what causes it, but preeclampsia, if caught in time, has a simple and proven remedy: low doses of aspirin administered from the 16th week until the end of pregnancy."

Turning to Genetics

Until now, medical practitioners have assessed a woman's risk of preeclampsia by referring to previous pregnancies, blood pressure levels and other general symptoms. "But we sought a definitive biomarker that appears in a patient's blood as early as the first trimester, before any symptoms appear," Dr Shomron explains. "Our findings form the basis for a simple blood test that would predict preeclampsia and, in turn, allow doctors to provide treatment that would prevent the very onset of the disease."

Over the course of six years, the researchers examined the blood samples from thousands of pregnant women in their first trimester from clinics in the UK. The team then narrowed their focus to 75 specific blood samples: 35 taken from women who eventually contracted preeclampsia, and 40 taken from those who completed their pregnancies in full health.

The researchers extracted the RNA molecules (snippets of molecular information present in human cells) from the plasma of the samples and sequenced these using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). The scientists discovered the new biomarkers by analyzing the data using computational methods that included statistical analyses and machine learning algorithms.

"We identified 25 small RNA molecules that were differentially expressed between the preeclampsia and the control groups. Based on those RNA molecules, we then developed a model for the classification of preeclampsia samples," says Liron Yoffe. "These findings indicate the predictive value of circulating small RNA molecules in the first trimester, and lay the foundation for producing a novel early non-invasive diagnostic tool for preeclampsia, which could reduce the life-threatening risk for both the mother and foetus."

Early Diagnosis Leads to Early Prevention

According to Prof Moshe Hod, the new research follows a global trend, which "seeks to establish pregnancy tests in the first trimester, as opposed to today, when most tests are performed in the third trimester."

Prof Hod, the President of the European Association of Perinatal Medicine and Chairman of The International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (FIGO) Committee that deals with maternal and offspring health, is leading a global effort to develop new diagnostic techniques to improve prediction and prevention of complications like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth in the first trimester of pregnancy.

"Early testing or prediction will allow doctors to safeguard the health of mother and foetus alike. It will also facilitate, if necessary, early preventive interventions to improve maternal and offspring's outcome," concludes Prof Hod.

"The samples recently collected from other countries - Italy, Spain, Russia, and in particular Israel - will be used to apply our findings collectively to patients from around the world," adds Dr Shomron.

Further Information

Source: George Hunka

Contact: Jordan Isenstadt <>

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