Why do we need this research?
If there are defects in the lining of the womb when a baby is conceived, a woman may be more likely to have a miscarriage. At the moment, we’re not sure exactly why this can lead to recurrent miscarriages.
We want to find out what features of the womb make repeated miscarriage more likely. To do this, we are studying the cells and DNA in samples from the womb before women become pregnant.
What’s happening in this project?
Our scientists have looked at tissue samples from the wombs of 36 women. They found that problems with stem cells – unspecialised cells that can make other types of cell in the body – could be linked to defects in the lining of the womb.
The problems happen when these cells are ‘exhausted’: that is, they stop being able to renew themselves enough. Our researchers think that this could be making it more likely that women have multiple miscarriages.
The team are now developing a test to count how many stem cells there are in the lining of the womb, and whether they are exhausted. They have also extracted genetic material from the cells in the womb lining and are now analysing it to look for ways of predicting miscarriage.
What difference will this project make?
This team of scientists recently completed a trial which showed that a diabetes drug could increase the numbers of stem cells in the lining of the womb. Their current project will help to develop a test which would identify which women need the treatment the most.
We hope that this work will help us find particular signs we can look for in the lining of the womb to tell when women are at risk of miscarriage, even before getting pregnant. This could eventually lead to new ways to reduce the risk of miscarriages.
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.
Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy may trigger long-term post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression
The largest ever study into the psychological impact of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy has shown that early-stage pregnancy loss can have a serious impact on mental health. The research was led by Professor Tom Bourne at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London.
A pilot trial led by Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research suggests diabetes drug could be repurposed to target the lining of the womb in women with recurrent miscarriage.
More than a third of maternity doctors admitted they suffer from burnout and exhaustion. This means that they may avoid difficult cases, over-prescribe medications and care less about their patients, increasing the risk of mistakes.
Abdominal stitch is more effective than vaginal stitch for women who experience recurrent preterm births
A clinical trial has shown that an abdominal stitch can save babies’ lives by reducing preterm birth for high-risk women who have had a previous failed vaginal stitch. The trial was led and co-authored by Professor Andrew Shennan, Clinical Director of Tommy’s Preterm Surveillance Clinic.