Why do we need this research?
At the moment, techniques that can find out if a miscarriage was caused by genetic problems are too expensive to use widely. Tommy’s want to find a better way of diagnosing genetic problems, so parents aren’t left questioning why miscarriage happened to them.
What’s happening in this project?
To do this, researchers funded by Tommy’s are looking at two techniques: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Mass Spectrometry (MS). Both could be used to look at samples of the placenta, to find if the baby had genetic problems that stopped it surviving.
NMR uses a magnetic field to look at the very small traces of chemicals our cells leave behind, that can tell us about what they were doing. It is cheap and fast, but not very sensitive. MS instead looks at these traces by sorting different chemicals by how heavy they are. MS is more sensitive at picking up traces but is also more expensive and time-consuming.
Our researchers think that these techniques could be used to detect differences in the placentas of women who suffered a miscarriage. Therefore, our researchers are carrying out a study to see if this is possible. So far, they have used MS to analyse nearly 30 samples of placenta. They are continuing to use NMR and MS to study a range of samples from the placenta and womb.
What difference will this project make?
By finding new ways to detect genetic problems that could have led to a miscarriage, Tommy’s researchers will help give parents the answers they need to understand their loss.
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.