Reducing the risk of preterm birth
Currently, there are no treatments available that can reliably prevent premature womb contractions while also being risk-free for the mother and baby. For example, many drugs that are effective at reducing contractions may also relax blood vessels and affect blood flow to the womb or placenta, which could put the baby at risk.
At Newcastle University, Professor Michael Taggart hopes to change this by investigating ways to target the muscles of the womb without affecting other important tissues. This research could ultimately lead to safer and more effective treatments for spontaneous preterm birth. We are co-funding this project with Borne.
Discovering new ways to prevent spontaneous preterm birth
A major barrier to preventing premature birth is that we do not yet fully understand how the onset of labour is triggered.
Dr Victoria Male and her team, based at Imperial College London, have identified a new kind of immune cell in the lining of the uterus, whose number and activity increases during labour. These cells switch on genes that activate the local immune response and help the waters to break.
With co-funding from Borne, the team now aims to determine whether these cells trigger full-term labour – and whether these cells are also involved in spontaneous preterm labour.