Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cancer drug could aid premature labour

14.06.2005


AN anti-cancer drug could potentially be the first effective treatment for the many thousands of premature births that occur worldwide each year, scientific tests have found.



The drug, which has been used to treat types of cancer including breast, bowel and lung, has been found in the laboratory to control levels of a hormone receptor protein in the womb which is linked with giving birth.

The findings, from a research team at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, should bring hope to the women who see their premature babies die or suffer from physical or mental disability as a result of being born too early.


The research, funded by the charity Action Medical Research, is published today in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

In the UK each year, around 10 per cent, approximately 60,000, pregnancies end with premature births of less than 37 weeks gestation, which is the highest rate in Western Europe and costs the NHS millions of pounds. The problem is worse in the developing world.

Drugs currently used to treat women who give birth prematurely are relatively ineffective, and often have dangerous side effects, such as heart problems in mother and baby.

The research team examined the effect that the anti-cancer drug Trichostatin A - better known as TSA - had on the levels of receptors on human smooth muscle cells of the womb, or uterus, that are affected by the pregnancy hormone, hCG (Human chorionic gonadotrophin).

During pregnancy, the placenta releases large amounts of hCG. This activates the CG/LH receptors on the muscle cells of the womb to produce a muscle relaxant, which in turn prevents contractions and keeps the uterus in a relaxed state. It is known that decreases in hCG receptor levels may lead to contractions in the womb and labour.

Women whose babies are born prematurely experience an acute drop in the numbers of the CG/LH receptors and are thus less responsive to the hCG hormone. Laboratory tests carried out by the Newcastle University team found that TSA is able to increase numbers of the CG/LH receptors in uterine smooth muscle cells.

The researchers are now seeking funding for clinical trials to assess whether TSA would work in women who are due to give birth prematurely, or in those who are at high risk of having a premature baby.

Research team leader, Dr Nick Europe-Finner, of Newcastle University’s School of Surgical and Reproductive Sciences, said: “Many people think that that premature births are no longer a problem and would be astonished to know that, even in a sophisticated, developed nation like the UK, there are still around 10 per cent of births which are classed as premature.

“It’s particularly frustrating for doctors and mothers alike that there is still no effective treatment, despite the fact that many premature babies die or have physical or mental conditions that may affect them for the rest of their lives.

“Our laboratory tests show that the drug TSA is able to fool uterine muscle cells and suggest it could be a potential new therapeutic agent in preventing premature birth from occurring. We now need to take the research a step further and test it in a clinical setting, although funding for this would be required.”

Mr Andrew Loughney , consultant obstetrician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne, said: “This is a very exciting area of research because it may lead to the development of new, more effective ways of preventing premature birth.

“Premature birth is a huge problem in the UK. In the hospital where I work, the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne, we find ourselves looking after women in premature labour day in and day out without having any really effective treatments to offer.

“There are two challenges ahead. The first will be to see whether the drug has a clear clinical effect in reducing contractions in the womb. The second will be to ensure that the new treatment has no adverse effects for the mother or the baby.”

Dr Nick Europe-Finner | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ncl.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

nachricht Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>