INFANT Centre Announces Collaboration with the HRB Mother & Baby Network

INFANT Centre announces collaboration with the HRB Mother & Baby Network to investigate the benefits of an additional diagnostic blood test to improve the outcomes of pregnant women with suspected pre-eclampsia.

Investigating a point of care diagnostic tool to enable appropriate stratification of the antenatal management of women presenting with suspected pre-eclampsia.

INFANT, a world leading Science Foundation Ireland research centre at University College Cork (UCC) and Cork University Maternity Hospital, announced it has commenced an all-Ireland study of 4,000 women, in collaboration with the Health Research Board (HRB) Mother & Baby Network. The research will investigate a point of care diagnostic platform that will measure the potential benefits of offering an additional blood test to measure Placental Growth Factor (PlGF) to improve the outcomes for both mother and baby when pre term pre-eclampsia (PET) is suspected. Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that can affect any woman and there is no treatment for it.

The HRB Mother and Baby Clinical Trial Network Ireland brings together leading Irish obstetric and neonatal researchers, with an international reputation to address problems in women and children’s health that will have a global impact.

The PARROT Ireland research programme aims to more effectively diagnose pregnant women when it is suspected they may have PET so that their care may be managed more efficiently. Diagnosing mothers earlier would have an impact on their medical outcomes and also upon hospital resources, reducing unnecessary admissions.

The PARROT Ireland programme is a follow on to the PELICAN study. INFANT took part in this multicentre prospective study to evaluate the use of PlGF tests in women presenting with suspected PET. The study suggests that PlGF testing presents a realistic and innovative adjunct to the management of women with suspected PET, especially in those presenting preterm.

PlGF is a protein produced by the placenta in pregnancy and it is known to exist in much lower levels in women with pre-eclampsia at all stages of their pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is a disease of pregnancy usually characterised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine and is known to complicate 2-8% of pregnancies. If present it can result in significant maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality.

Launching the PARROT Ireland project, Professor Louise Kenny, co-director of the INFANT centre said, “this study is a unique opportunity to make immediate changes to a patient suspected of having pre-eclampsia’s care using a point of care device. Results of the test are available within 30 minutes, ensuring information is relayed to the treating clinician in a timely manner. This study will combine the wide range of expertise in the INFANT centre and the HRB Mother & Baby Network and contribute to a more stratified system of patient management which in turn will lead to better outcomes for mother and baby.”

This all-island study will invite 4,000 pregnant women over two years in 7 centres around Ireland – Cork University Maternity Hospital, the National Maternity Hospital, Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital, the Rotunda Maternity Hospital, University Hospital Galway, University Maternity Hospital Limerick and the Royal Jubilee Maternity Service Hospital in Belfast.

Professor Fergal Malone, Co-Network Lead of the HRB Mother & Baby Network, said, “this research has the potential to have enormous impact on the management of pregnant women with suspected pre-eclampsia and the resulting outcomes. We are very happy to see Ireland’s health researchers continuing to foster research and innovation in our health care services.”

Evidence from the PARROT Ireland study may inform national guidelines on the management of suspected pre-eclampsia and contribute to the better care and management of pregnant women.

UCC researcher honoured for brain seizure predictions

Dr Andriy Temko, a research fellow at the INFANT centre, was named winner of the Kaggle challenge.
Dr Andriy Temko, a research fellow at the INFANT centre, was named winner of the Kaggle challenge.

A UCC researcher has won a prestigious international competition for his work in predicting seizures in the human brain through long-term EEG recordings.

Dr Andriy Temko, a research fellow at the INFANT centre, was named as winner of the Kaggle challenge, and a $10,000 first prize.

Together with data scientists from Ornon, France; Curitiba, Brazil; and Minneapolis, US, Dr Temko developed an artificial intelligence solution that showed the highest accuracy among nearly 500 competing teams from around the world.

The aim of the event was to develop seizure forecasting systems with the potential to help patients with epilepsy lead more normal lives. Epilepsy afflicts nearly 1% of the world’s population, and is characterised by the occurrence of spontaneous seizures.

The challenge was organised and sponsored by the National Institute of Health, American Epilepsy Society and Melbourne University.

In order for electrical brain activity (EEG) based seizure forecasting systems to work effectively, computational algorithms must reliably identify periods of increased probability of seizure occurence. If these brain states can be identified, devices designed to warn patients of impending seizures would be possible. Patients could avoid potentially dangerous activities like driving or swimming, and medications could be administered only when needed to prevent seizures, reducing overall side effects.

For more information, visit: https://www.kaggle.com/c/melbourne-university-seizure-prediction

Dr Temko is a PI of the Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Science. In collaboration with Dr. Emanuel Popovici and Prof. Geraldine Boylan, he is working on the development of a newborn smart brain ‘stethoscope‘ — a portable device that will allow a medical professional to listen to an infant’s brainwaves and quickly assess their brain health status. Such a low cost device for sound-based observation of brain health could be used by all healthcare professionals globally, greatly improving access to diagnosis and treatment for disadvantaged communities.