Why do we need this research?
Recently, we found that women who suffer from recurrent miscarriages don’t have enough of a special type of cell in the lining of their wombs: stem cells. These are unspecialised cells that can turn into many other types of cell.
The cells in the womb are replaced often, for example after a woman’s period when the lining of the womb regrows. A similar process happens after childbirth. For the cells in the womb to be replaced, we need stem cells. Without them, our body tissues age faster – this in turn can cause inflammation that could be harmful to the growing baby, leading to miscarriage.
What happened in this project?
Researchers funded by Tommy’s think that in some women, there aren’t enough stem cells in the womb because a particular enzyme called DPP4 is too active. This enzyme can stop stem cells getting from the blood into the lining of the womb. Importantly, a drug called sitagliptin (a drug used to treat diabetes) can stop DPP4 from working – and possibly prevent miscarriages.
Tommy’s supported the first ever study into using this drug to help increase the number of stem cells in the womb. The SIMPLANT trial aimed to find out if sitagliptin can increase stem cells in the wombs of women who have had multiple miscarriages. The trial recruited 37 women from across the UK, who took either sitagliptin or a placebo (dummy pill). The trial found that sitagliptin did increase the numbers of stem cells in the lining of the womb.
What difference will this project make?
The results of this important trial suggest that sitagliptin could help reduce the risk of miscarriage in women with low numbers of stem cells in their womb. Before these results can be confirmed in a larger clinical trial, the team are developing a new test to identify which women would most benefit from this treatment.
Ultimately, our researchers hope that their work could help to reduce the number of miscarriages in the future.
Thanks for your interest in our research
Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight against baby loss and premature birth, click here.
More research projects
A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.
Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.
Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.
The day before Mother’s Day, and two days before the UK officially went into coronavirus lockdown, Zara Dawson found out she was having a miscarriage. Her third consecutive miscarriage in less than a year, and fourth consecutive loss, after losing her second son Jesse in 2018 to termination for medical reasons.