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Sunday 21st January 2018

Premature birth prevention

23rd October 2009

UK researchers are testing a cancer drug to try to prevent premature labour.

Premature Baby

The team from Newcastle University tested Trichostatin A, used to treat cancer, on tissue taken from 36 women undergoing a caesarean section.

With 50,000 premature births in the UK, and the rate rising, they believe the drug can stop contractions and may prevent premature labour.

The therapy worked by increasing the levels of a protein that controls muscle relaxation.

Preterm labour and birth is the single biggest cause of death in infants in the developed world and around 1,500 babies die in the UK every year and while a number of drugs are used to try to stop early labour, most have serious side effects.

In their tests, the researcher exposed the tissue to Trichostatin A and measured the effects on both spontaneous contractions and those induced by the labour drug, oxytocin.

The research is published in the journal Cellular and Molecular Medicine and funded by Action Medical research.

Deputy director Dr Yolande Harley said: "This project has uncovered some of the molecular pathways that regulate uterine contractions and so could be linked to premature birth.

"It could have a role in preventing premature birth - finding a new treatment for early labour would be a major step forward."

Professor Jane Norman from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology said: "At the moment, it's not possible to treat preterm labour effectively.”

She said that with preterm birth rates rising across the UK, a new more effective drug was badly needed.


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