Mercy Perinatal’s breakthrough drug discovery to treat preeclampsia

Every year, preeclampsia claims the lives of 500,000 unborn babies and 70,000 pregnant mothers around the world.

Young Werribee mother, Shannon Boland, knows these statistics all too well.

In 2020 Shannon tragically lost her daughter, Mia, to preeclampsia and says the pain of losing her baby never goes away.

“Our beautiful little girl Mia was born on 29 September 2020. Instead of waiting in anticipation for her to cry after labour, my husband and I were mourning our loss. She was unwell but she was a perfect, beautiful girl.”

Almost a year afterwards, a courageous Shannon gave birth to a healthy boy, Hudson.

Shannon with baby Hudson and her mother.

Her spirits buoyed by Hudson’s birth, Shannon also welcomed international news of a clinical breakthrough.

Until now no drug had been discovered that slows preeclampsia from progressing to cause life-threatening injuries to major organs in the mother – her kidneys, liver, lungs and brain.

Late last year, a joint team of researchers from Mercy Perinatal and colleagues in Cape Town, South Africa reported the results of a breakthrough clinical trial in the prestigious British Medical Journal.

Their findings suggest the diabetes drug, metformin, may be the first ever disease-modifying drug discovered that slows preeclampsia in its tracks.

“If our findings are confirmed, it may mean that metformin could be used to save the lives of thousands of mothers and their infants”, co-director of Mercy Perinatal Professor Sue Walker AO says.

The biggest beneficiary of the work undertaken by the Mercy Perinatal and South African team of researchers are pregnant women and their babies.

“That’s what gets us out of bed and brings us to work each day. It is the vision that we might be able to reduce the number of lives lost,” Sue says.

Shannon says it is amazing that such occurrences are happening. “Knowing that future outcomes for others might be different to ours… I could not hope for anything better,” she says.

A third set of trials soon to start may provide final confirmation that a simple, cheap tablet metformin could be used to significantly reduce the 70,000 mothers and half a million babies globally that are currently lost to preeclampsia.

This is why your support is crucial. Your gift will help Mercy Perinatal realise their vision of reducing the number of mothers and babies lost to preeclampsia each year.

Donate today to help Mercy Perinatal bring more mothers and babies safely home.

Other ways to support us

Not able to attend our Indigenous Art Auction and Cocktail Reception on Friday 17 June but still want to support Mercy Perinatal? Authentic and Original Aboriginal Art Gallery will be donating a portion of the sales between 17 June – 17 July to Mercy Perinatal — you just need to let the gallery know that you came through Mercy Health Foundation’s recommendation.

Last reviewed June 10, 2022.

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