The placenta is “transient organ,” meaning it’s only a part of us during our life in the womb. Because it provides oxygen and essential nutrients during development, it plays a pivotal role for fetal growth. As Dr. Mana Parast says quite simply, “None of us would be here without it.”
Preeclampsia is a disorder of the placenta that complicates 5-8% of all pregnancies worldwide and is the leading cause of maternal death in the developed world. It’s also the leading cause of fetal growth restriction and there’s no cure except to deliver the baby. That makes preeclampsia the number one cause of induced preterm delivery in the United States. Babies that survive often spend months in neonatal intensive care and have many complications and increase risk for heart disease and diabetes later in life.
In this video, CIRM grantee Dr. Parast, a UCSD perinatal pathologist, discusses her use of the induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technique to screen for drugs that might lead to a cure for preeclampsia. Also, Silvia Michelazzi, a preeclampsia survivor, and her husband Dr. Matteo Moretto-Zito share their daughter’s birth story.