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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Screening in early pregnancy for pre-eclampsia using Down syndrome quadruple test markers.

OBJECTIVES: To estimate the screening performance of early second-trimester prenatal serum markers for Down syndrome, in screening for the development of pre-eclampsia, and analyse the uncertainty over its screening performance. METHODS: A nested case-control study was carried out on 96 women with pre-eclampsia and 5 controls for each case from among the women attending three hospitals in London for their prenatal care. Record linkage between computerized obstetric and screening databases identified women with pre-eclampsia and unaffected control women. The stored frozen serum samples collected from these pregnancies between 15 and 22 weeks' gestation were retrieved and assayed for alpha-fetoprotein ( AFP), unconjugated estriol (uE(3)), total human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), free beta-hCG and inhibin-A. RESULTS: Pre-eclampsia was identified from the computerized obstetric records and confirmed by examination of the medical notes. In the pregnancies that went on to develop pre-eclampsia, early second trimester inhibin-A and hCG values were significantly raised and uE(3) values were significantly lowered, while AFP values were not significantly altered. Using the Quadruple test markers ( AFP, uE(3), hCG (total or free beta) and inhibin-A), an estimated 34% of pregnancies that developed pre-eclampsia were detected at a 5% false-positive rate. If all the women who had pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy (assuming a pre-eclampsia prevalence of 4%) are considered as screen positive and the serum test is applied to the remaining women, then around 42% of pre-eclamptic pregnancies would be detected at a 6.5% false-positive rate. Pre-eclampsia screening performance using the Quadruple test markers was materially better than that using the Triple test markers. CONCLUSION: Adding screening for pre-eclampsia to an existing Down syndrome screening programme using the Quadruple test markers is simple and worthwhile. It will detect over 40% of pregnancies with pre-eclampsia at an acceptable false-positive rate (about 6%) and with minimal additional costs.[1]


  1. Screening in early pregnancy for pre-eclampsia using Down syndrome quadruple test markers. Wald, N.J., Morris, J.K., Ibison, J., Wu, T., George, L.M. Prenat. Diagn. (2006) [Pubmed]
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