Ectopic pregnancies occur when an embryo fails to implant in the womb. Instead, it may occur in the Fallopian tubes leading to rupture of the tube and subsequent loss of the embryo and risk to the life of the pregnant woman.
Currently there is no way to predict whether an ectopic pregnancy will occur. However, that’s all about to change. Scientists at The Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found a protein biomarker – ADAM12 – whose presence showed a nearly 97% correlation with ectopic pregnancy.
This discovery could lead to development of a simple blood test for ectopic pregnancy.
The research teams compared the proteomic signature of blood samples taken from known cases of ectopic pregnancy with blood samples taken from women who experienced a normal pregnancy. What they discovered was about 70 biomarkers that could signal ectopic pregnancy. Through some stringent statistical analysis, they then whittled it down to 12 of the most promising candidates. While some of the proteins had previously been associated with ectopic pregnancies, the researchers found at least two, including ADAM12, that had not.
In case you were wondering, ADAM12 is a biomarker from the disintegrin and metalloprotease protein family. Members of this family are structurally related to snake venom disintegrins, and have been implicated in a variety of biological processes involving cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, including fertilization, muscle development, and neurogenesis.
SRxA’s Word on Health is hopeful that this discovery could pave the way for a blood test that could be incorporated into routine early prenatal care and save the lives of many women.