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 A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

nachricht Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>