Recurrent miscarriage may be due to lack of stem cells in the womb lining

Researchers have found that in some cases the lining of the womb is defective in patients who suffer repeat miscarriages.

Researchers from the University of Warwick, who will soon be part of the new Tommy's Early Miscarriage Research Centre, have found that in some cases the lining of the womb in patients they studied who had suffered repeat miscarriages was defective.

Tissue samples were studied from183 patients in Coventry.

This major breakthrough could help many women.

Prof Jan Brosens, who will be part of the team leading the new Tommy's Miscarriage Research Centre, said that knowing the problem was the start to solving it: "I can envisage that we will be able to correct these defects before the patient tries to achieve another pregnancy.

"This may be the only way to really prevent miscarriages in these cases."

A shortfall of stem cells was the likely cause of accelerated ageing of the womb lining which resulted in the failure of some pregnancies.

The lining of the womb has to renew itself each cycle and the ability to do this is dependent on the stem cells in the womb.

Prof Brosens said: "Cultured cells from women who had had three or more consecutive miscarriages showed that ageing cells in the lining of the womb don't have the ability to prepare adequately for pregnancy."

Prof Siobhan Quenby, who will also be part of the Tommy's team, believes the work is a "major breakthrough" which offers hope to patients.

This knowledge means new treatments can be trialled

"The real challenge now is to develop strategies to increase the function of stem cells in the womb lining," she said.

Their "two-fold" focus aimed to improve the screening of women at risk of repeat miscarriage, while a number of drugs and other interventions, such as the endometrial "scratch" procedure to help embryos implant, could potentially increase stem cell populations.

Jane Brewin, Tommy's CEO, said: 'At Tommy's we believe that research is the only way to end the heartache caused by early miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage. The new Early Miscarriage Research Centre, which we are funding and opens in April this year, will bring experts such as Professors Brosens and Quenby together with others from Imperial College London and the University of Birmingham to carry out world leading research in the field of early miscarriage.