Alere Pre-Eclampsia Test Could Reduce Risk of Maternal Death
16 Dec 2011

The Lancet online* has published an editorial this week that highlights the alarming fact that many maternal deaths in the UK are associated with substandard care and are potentially preventable. The article suggests that it is the failure to diagnose or appropriately manage pre-eclampsia which is the most common cause of maternal death.

Pre-eclampsia is a serious and potentially fatal condition that arises in pregnancy, usually in the second or third trimester. The exact cause is unknown but it is thought to be related to a problem with the placenta. The non-specificity of signs and symptoms contribute to making clinical diagnosis a significant challenge, this represents a high risk to both mother and child. The condition can lead to maternal death, stillbirth and preterm delivery.

For the reasons described above, there is a need for improved blood markers that can reliably and quickly identify women with pre-eclampsia. The Alere Triage® PLGF test is a rapid quantitative immunoassay that can provide a PLGF level from a maternal plasma specimen in just 15 minutes. The PLGF level can be used to aid in the diagnosis of early onset pre-eclampsia.

“Triage® PLGF has the potential to remove the uncertainty in clinical decision-making at the point of care, without delay, in women presenting with signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia before 35 weeks,” noted the authors of this study. “It is in these pregnancies where a novel marker that directly correlates with the underlying pathology might have greatest clinical application.”

These experts further conclude that “because the Alere Triage® PLGF test has such a high sensitivity and specificity, its application in the diagnosis of early onset pre-eclampsia should significantly aid diagnosis alongside current methods.” Professor Christopher Redman, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, concludes that “a reliable and specific test that aids in the diagnosis of those aspects of the pre-eclampsia syndrome that jeopardize the safety of mother and/or unborn baby would be invaluable. Alere Triage® PLGF is a major advance in the assessment for preterm disease.”

Professor Andrew Shennan from Kings College London, co-author of the Lancet editorial, agrees that better diagnostic tests should be used. “At last we have a potential test that can accurately risk discriminate, and provide some logical direction to our clinical decision making.” Adoption of more specific diagnostic tests for pre-eclampsia, should help to identify those at risk more quickly, improve the standard of care received, reduce maternal and fetal consequences, and help make maternal death a ‘never event’.”

* Shennan, A.H., Redman C., Cooper C., Milne F. (2011) Lancet Vol 378 December 15 2011;

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Sonia Nicholas
Clinical Diagnostics Editor