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Dr Manu Vatish and Dr Sofia Cerdeira from the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health have won a prestigious global award, that recognises teams that collaborate across disciplines and transform healthcare delivery and ultimately patient lives.

Dr Manu Vatish and Dr Sofia Cerdeira from the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health have won a prestigious global award, that recognises teams that collaborate across disciplines and transform healthcare delivery and ultimately patient lives.

The annual UNIVANTS of Healthcare Excellence Award was given to credit the working partnership between Roche Diagnostics, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford Academic Health Science Network. Their joint expertise resulted in a new test which predicts with much greater accuracy, whether a pregnant woman will develop Pre-eclampsia (PE) within the following seven days.

Pre- eclampsia is a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, affecting 4-8% of women globally, causing major maternal and fetal morbidity. Roughly half of patients who are admitted to the hospital at risk of PE don’t end up suffering from the condition. Significant resources are used trying to identify PE mothers by measuring blood pressure and proteinuria. This is sub-optimal because these clinical signs have poor diagnostic accuracy, which means clinicians rely on clinical instinct.

“If you don’t have a firm diagnosis, you either incorrectly send someone with Pre-eclampsia home or incorrectly admit someone who doesn’t have Pre-eclampsia,” Vatish said. “Those are both bad outcomes for the professionals involved in their care.” 

Dr Manu Vatish, Dr Sofia Cerdeira and Dr Tim James (Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) worked extensively around the potential use of laboratory tests that could offer clinicians reassurance of their PE diagnosis while avoiding hospitalization of patients who won’t develop the condition. They found significant opportunity in two angiogenic biomarkers: Placental Growth Factor (PlGF), and its receptor, Soluble Flt-1. These biomarkers showed a very powerful negative predictive value, meaning they were a reliable indicator of patients who were not likely to develop PE.

The test was developed by Roche Diagnostics and a clinical trial was run at the John Radcliffe Hospital (Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust). Following improved patient outcomes, the Oxford Academic Health Science Network launched the test to other maternity units across the UK. It has been well-received by patients, who are often unnecessarily frightened when PE is explained to them during prenatal visits. Hospitalization can be a frustrating experience for patients who ultimately have their baby without issue.

This high profile award attracted 300 applications from 97 countries. It is a fantastic acknowledgment of how shared expertise across disciplines, including the core laboratory, can reshape care pathways and ultimately achieve better outcomes for patients, clinicians, payers and entire health systems.