Scientists at MirZyme Therapeutics have discovered a cure for preeclampsia, a life-
threatening hypertensive disorder affecting one in twelve of 130 million annual
The study, led by Professor Asif Ahmed, Executive Chairman and CEO working with
affiliates at the King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, University of Milan, Italy,
University of Toronto, Canada, Aston Medical School and University of Southampton
in the UK.
MirZyme Therapeutics, an innovative early stage biopharmaceutical company,
focused on the development and commercialisation of targeted therapeutics with
companion diagnostics to prevent preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction in
pregnancy. MirZyme is the first of its kind in the maternal drug space that is taking
this type of approach. The company has been granted global patents for drugs that
produce the ‘smelly gas’, hydrogen sulphide, for the prevention of preeclampsia and
fetal growth restriction.
The team discovered that hydrogen sulfide-releasing aspirin, a designer molecule,
MZe786 releases hydrogen sulfide to suppress hypertension, improve kidney
function and prevent poor fetal outcome in this model of preeclampsia. They also
found that MZe786 was superior therapeutic candidate than aspirin in preventing
Prevention of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia presents itself as a new hypertensive disorder halfway through
pregnancy. Every year around the world, it causes the death of a mother or an
unborn child every minute or leads to serious complications for some mothers and
Four in ten of the children born to affected mothers are delivered prematurely and up
to one in four are born growth-restricted.
All of them are at risk of health issues into their adulthood, which includes
cardiovascular disease, learning difficulties and breathing problems.
Preeclampsia is a dangerous disorder that can shorten lives even after pregnancy by
inflicting long-term health consequences on mothers such as kidney and
cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia.
Just like covid-19, preeclampsia is a disorder of unmet medical need. There are no
drugs to prevent or treat it and the annual global cost burden of preeclampsia is over
100 billion US dollars.
Identifying the cause
The research, published in the prestigious journal Redox Biology, shows that
preeclampsia is caused during pregnancy due to a defect in a protective enzyme and
with a rise in a culprit protein called soluble Flt-1 in the mother’s circulation.
These scientists developed a genetic model of preeclampsia with low levels of a
protective enzyme, heme oxygenase-1 and high circulating soluble Ft-1. This model
showed signs of severe preeclampsia including hypertension, kidney injury and
Miss H. May Rezai, the first author who is about to submit her PhD thesis said, “I am
so proud of this work and the opportunity to work with MirZyme during my PhD has
given me a unique insight into the world of science and business. During my PhD, I
had decided I didn't want to ever get pregnant as I developed a fear of preeclampsia, but now I feel, MirZyme is shining a light on this silent killer in a way to prevent it. So,
one day I will be able to have a safe and healthy pregnancy”.
Professor Asif Ahmed, Executive Chairman and CEO of MirZyme and the Founder
of Aston Medical School in Birmingham said: "Pregnancy should be a joyous time,
yet sometime pregnancy is a risky business. At MirZyme, we aim to minimise the
risks. Our ambition is very simple; we want to ensure that preeclampsia never causes
a woman to choose between her own life and the life of her unborn child. This paper
is paving the way for a safe, easy accessible and effective treatment against
preeclampsia. One Test. One Pill. Save Two lives. This we will achieve before this
decade is over."
Professor Mark E. Smith, The Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of
Southampton said, “At Southampton, we encourage academic and entrepreneurial
activities. Active engagement with companies such as MirZyme Therapeutics will
help our postgraduate research students to explore the world of translational science
and business. The breakthrough science reported in this research paper is all about
transforming and saving lives. I look forward to seeing a closer interaction between
MirZyme and the University so we may offer opportunities to our students like that
experienced by Miss May Rezai.”
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