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.
More research projects
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.
As research shows half of UK mums are experiencing mental health problems in coronavirus lockdown, we've joined forces with Elvie on #TheBigSqueeze campaign to help Tommy's midwives continue to provide their vital support virtually during the pandemic.