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Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered the cause of the dangerous pregnancy complication pre-eclampsia. The cause behind pre-eclampsia, which can quickly turn into a life threatening condition and has very much symptoms to boot, has been a mystery until now! The scientists' discovery paths the way to the discovery of medications to combat pre-eclampsia. The only symptoms that give away the presence of pre-eclampsia are sudden hypertension and protein spillage in the urine. And through understanding that hypertension and what happens before it, that the cause of pre-eclampsia was finally discovered.

The basis of the study, which was published in Nature (where it can be downloaded for a fee), is a better understanding of the functioning of blood pressure. The peptide angiotensin plays a role in regulating the blood pressure. Until recently, scientists did not know the exact role of the enigmatic angiotensin, but the British scientists now understand what it does. Angiotensin was actually found to oxidize and change shape, in order to allow access to an enzyme. Because of this process, a hormone is released and the blood pressure rises.

What does that mean in plain English? The study's abstract is full of medical jargon and pretty tough to decipher for anyone without a medical degree. But simply put, the Cambridge scientists' new findings mean that the condition pre-eclampsia is now no longer a totally mystery for which there is no cure, other than delivery. Now that there is a better understanding of the causes behind the condition, the development of medication to halt pre-eclampsia in its early stages can commence. This discovery also offers hope to patients with chronic hypertension. And that is great news for an awful lot of people! For more information also see preeclampsia treatment and prevention and high blood pressure during pregnancy.

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