New perspectives on shaping the future of pregnancy health

Personalized medicine has arrived for some specialties, but not yet others: here’s why pregnancy care is next

Believe it or not, oncology care can be the road map for the future of pregnancy health.

The last two decades have brought a wave of change in healthcare, with technology and therapies now able to provide personalized care in a way that has never before been possible. Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of oncology, where cancer patients used to receive the same standard chemotherapy regimens: “one size fits all.”  While some would respond positively to treatment, others would worsen on the same therapies. Why do some patients respond differently to treatment? How could we predict which people will benefit most from a particular drug?

Fortunately, oncology has made considerable strides in the last twenty years in tackling these critical questions due to significant investments in research and translational medicine. Doctors can now look at a person’s unique underlying biology and predict which therapies are most likely to work.  Cancer patients can be spared from ineffective treatments, and doctors select therapies in a much more personalized fashion than ever before. While we haven’t yet found the elusive “cure” for cancer, the ability to personalize oncology care is now well-established and constantly improving.

Despite the successes seen in oncology, personalized medicine hasn’t yet translated to other fields as effectively. We believe it’s time for this to change and that pregnancy health is ripe for innovation.

Until now, we haven’t had the means to personalize pregnancy health in a nuanced way. Doctors and midwives have done their best to assess the risk of complications with the tools available and traditionally have relied on characteristics such as age, race, ethnicity, BMI, and prior pregnancy complications. Unfortunately, we know that these factors are poor proxies for understanding a pregnancy’s true underlying biology and aren’t adequate for predicting complications. Some patients with higher BMI will be more likely to develop high blood pressure, for example, but many will not. Which patients will develop high blood pressure or preeclampsia? Which patients will have early labor and deliver prematurely? How can we accurately assess which patients have a higher chance of complications in pregnancy, enabling us to personalize a care plan and prevent complications before they occur?

Fortunately, new investment and rapid innovation in pregnancy health are now poised to answer these critical questions. Recent landmark RNA research (Nature 2022, AJOG 2022) shows a simple blood test from the mom can provide a personalized window into a pregnancy’s health and allow us to understand a pregnancy’s underlying biology – enabling doctors to predict and proactively treat pregnancy complications much earlier. By harnessing the power of RNA, pregnancy health can leapfrog to being one of the most innovative and advanced medical fields. In fact, given the lifetime impact on families, it is incumbent upon us to make this a reality.

What is RNA – and how does it impact pregnancy?

RNA messages are found in the mom’s blood during pregnancy and contain information about the pregnancy’s health and progress. For the first time, we can decode these messages with the Mirvie RNA platform, revealing a unique signature that can identify which moms are most likely to develop certain complications in pregnancy, including preeclampsia and preterm birth. Using this information, doctors will soon be able to predict pregnancy complications months earlier than their symptoms appear. This historic breakthrough opens a new window for women to act and for their doctors to intervene before an unexpected complication becomes a crisis.

The Mirvie RNA platform’s transformational power has the potential to extend far beyond predicting complications. For example, several distinct biological features can likely lead to preterm birth or high blood pressure in pregnancy. One day soon, doctors will be able to say, ‘not only are you at risk for preeclampsia, but you’re at risk for this particular type of preeclampsia,’ and tailor a treatment plan based on that pregnancy’s unique biology. This invaluable information will also allow the development of new interventions directly targeting distinct causes of pregnancy complications in a way that has never before been possible.

Patient Perspective
The proprietary Mirvie RNA platform is first to predict unexpected complications before they happen by revealing the underlying biology of each pregnancy by analyzing tens of thousands of RNA messages from the baby, the placenta, and the mom with machine learning.

Moms and expecting parents deserve better

Pregnancy complications still affect 1 in 5 pregnancies.1 With maternal mortality on the rise in the United States2, it’s more important than ever to invest in pregnancy health and drive innovation in this underserved field. Mirvie is committed to expanding what is possible for pregnancy health.  Today, so many moms have pregnancy complications with no warning or preparation.  Soon, with a simple blood test, they will have a window into pregnancy health that allows them to partner with their care team to develop a personalized plan for pregnancy aimed at preventing complications and optimizing health for mom and baby. Now is the time for women to not just survive pregnancy – but thrive through it – thanks in part to the incredible data that only their RNA messages can reveal.

1. Trends in pregnancy and childbirth complications in the U.S. BlueCross BlueShield. Published June 17, 2020.
2. Hoyert DL. Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2020. National Center for Health Statistics (U.S.) NCHS Health E-stats. Published February 23, 2022.
Read other articles by Alison Cowan, Head of Medical Affairs
Read other articles by Maneesh Jain, CEO
Read other Patient Perspectives
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