Impact of Tommy's research centres 2018

Tommy's research centres produce high quality, relevant research to provide improved evidence needed for new understanding, new treatments and new and updated guidelines. This research will lead to the number of babies who die during pregnancy or birth decreasing.

Jump to: Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research | Tommy's Manchester Research Centre | Tommy's London Research Centre | Tommy's Edinburgh Research Centre

Why we invest in research

Tommy's research centres produce relevant, high quality research improving the lack of evidence in the field.

'To improve pregnancy care we need to better understand what goes wrong and where to direct treatment. We can only improve care by investing in scientific research to give us answers.'Jane Brewin, CEO Tommy's

Every paper published increases understanding and can lead to new treatments and updated guidelines which have the potential to reduce the number of babies who die during pregnancy or birth.

Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research

'Miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy: 1 in 4 women experience at least 1 miscarriage during their reproductive lifetime. The work of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research is therefore important and personally relevant to millions of families across the United Kingdom and beyond. We are proud of our efforts to answer the questions of couples experiencing miscarriage, and to improve their lives.'Professor Arri Coomarasamy, Director of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research

Read about the achievements of the Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research

Highlights of research 2017-2018

  • Endometrial stem cells in women with recurring pregnancy loss can be increased using a diabetes drug

    Recurrent miscarriages are strongly associated with stem cell deficiency. Completion of the SIMPLANT pilot trial has indicated that endometrial stem cells can be increased with DPP4 inhibitors, in this case, a drug called sitagliptin (a new drug used to treat diabetes).

  • Identification of markers of chronic endometritis (CD138) as possible predictors of birth outcome in women with recurrent miscarriages

    Problems in the endometrium contribute significantly to recurrent miscarriages. The SIM trial (endometrial scratch in women with recurrent miscarriages) did not identify a relationship between endometrial scratch and improvements in live birth outcome in recurrent miscarriage. However by characterising endometrial samples collected from participants, markers of chronic endometritis (CD138) were identified as possible predictors of outcome in this population. On the basis of this date, the £1.9 million EME-funded trial was developed (detailed below). 

  • Identification that miscarriage is associated with a reduced bacteria (Lactobacillus spp) in the vaginal microbiome, and nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is not associated with adverse outcomes.

    The EPOS-1 study (1200 women) assessed the association of several biomarkers with pregnancy outcome. The study has shown that miscarriage is associated with reduced lactobacillus spp in the maternal vaginal microbiome. This raises the possibility to prevent certain miscarriages through modulation of the vaginal microbiome The EPOS-1 study has also shown that nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is not associated with adverse outcomes.

Translating research into clinical care 2017-2018

  • National miscarriage care package.

    With the support of a £10,000 grant from Tommy’s, Professor Arri Coomarasamy has begun leading the development of a new ‘bundle of care’ based on the new ESHRE guidelines for recurrent pregnancy loss. We plan to test this bundle as one of our work packages in 2019. This bundle will provide valuable tools to assist consultants, clinicians and midwives in making the best decisions for patient care.

Other Achievements 2017-2018

  • £1.2 million Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award

    Professor Jan Brosens has been awarded a £1.2 million Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award to further develop his work to study the endometrium in recurrent miscarriage.

  • £2.1 million funding secured to investigate the treatment of women in pregnancy that suffer from PCOS

    The Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research has been awarded funding (total £2.1M) for the NIHR-HTA commissioned call trial: Letrozole Or Clomifene for ovulation Induction (LOCI) trial. This will enable us to answer the important question of whether metformin treatment of women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is able to prevent miscarriage, in addition to the primary research question.

  • £1.9 million funding secured for a new trial to investigate the treatment of women chronic endometritis to prevent miscarriage

    The Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research has been awarded funding (total £1.9M) from NIHR-EME: Chronic Endometritis and Recurrent Miscarriage (CERM) trial. This will enable us to answer the important question of whether treatment of recurrent miscarriage patients suffering from chronic endometritis with doxycycline prior to conception can prevent miscarriage.

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Tommy's Manchester Research Centre

'Our vision is to find solutions to pregnancy problems through research excellence. We deliver world-class advances in pregnancy research to inform better clinical care, policy and practice that will improve outcomes for mothers and families.'

Read about the achievements of the Tommy's Manchester Research Centre

Highlights of Research 2017-2018

  • Promising beetroot juice findings

    There have been some promising findings from our beetroot juice in pregnancy study showing a link between dietary nitrate supplementation and blood pressure regulation, as a potential treatment for hypertension in pregnancy.
    Pregnant women with hypertension were given either beetroot juice that contains nitrate, or a placebo control. They found that nitrate supplementation significantly lowered blood pressure in women who were able to utilise the nitrate.
    Importantly, amongst the 40 women that completed the trial, 97% found beetroot juice an acceptable intervention. Future studies are underway to identify why some women can benefit from nitrate supplementation, and to explore ways to improve the effectiveness of this intervention.

  • Placenta functionality in older women

    Researchers have shown that the placentas of older mothers do not work as effectively. These changes are consistent with ageing. We don't know currently know whether the age related changes are due to older eggs or due to changes occurring later in pregnancy due to changes to mother's blood vessels or metabolism. Ongoing studies in 2018-2019 will hopefully determine the cause of these age related changes. 

Translating research into clinical care 2017-2018

  • International consensus statement on the Management of Pregnancies After Stillbirth 

    Prof Alexander Heazell and Ms Louise Stephens co-authored an international consensus statement on the Management of Pregnancies After Stillbirth which will be published by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. This cites original research from the MFHRC regarding care in subsequent pregnancies after stillbirth.

  • RCOG guideline for the Management of Reduced Fetal Movements

    Prof Alexander Heazell and Dr Melissa Whitworth are leading the revision of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) guideline for the Management of Reduced Fetal Movements.

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Tommy's London Research Centre

'I am committed to helping women have healthier pregnancies; I lead a team which employs rigorous standards in research to improve our understanding and treatment of problems faced all too often by women when they are pregnant. These include pre-eclampsia, premature birth and gestational diabetes. I was drawn to this area as obstetrics is a field which has often been neglected but one which is critically important, not only for the health of women but for the future health of the next generation.' Professor Lucilla Poston

Read about the achievements of the Tommy's London Research Centre

Highlights of research 2017-2018

  • Relationship between plasma bile acids in women with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy and the risk of stillbirth

    A Tommy’s funded Clinical Fellow recently demonstrated that the concentrations of bile acids in the blood women with intrahepatic cholestasis are related to stillbirth and preterm labour. Importantly the risk of stillbirth increased if the bile acid concentration was higher than 100µmol/L. An important clinical challenge is to obtain bile acid test results quickly enough to be able to make decisions about management of pregnancies based on the bile acid level. Now this relationship has been confirmed, a bedside sensor for bile acids is being developed.

  • QUiPP app utilised worldwide and highly commended at the Health Tech Newspaper 2018 awards

    The QUiPP app can help predict if a woman is going to give birth prematurely. As well as providing support for those who will go in to labour early, for those at risk, the app can also confirm they won’t give birth prematurely, reducing unnecessary treatment and hospital admissions and providing reassurance to mothers-to-be.

  • 'Clinical paper of the year' awarded by prestigious journal

    The PANDA team were awarded 'clinical paper of the year' by the prestigious journal 'Hypertension' for their study of antihypertensives in management of raised blood pressure in pregnancy.

Translating research into clinical care 2017-2018

  • Premature surveillance clinic protocols have been recommended for adoption in 13 London centres.

    Prematurity protocols to be adopted in 13 London Hospitals and team members have been asked to author National Cerclage guidelines.

  • Dramatic improvement in clinical outcomes at local NHS trust

    Persuading their local NHS trust to adopt NICE Gestational Diabetes Mellitus guidelines has led to a dramatic improvement in clinical outcomes. They have also found that extended breast feeding in women who are obese not only helps weight loss in the mother, but also reduces obesity in the infant, providing added support to the benefits of breast feeding.

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Tommy's Edinburgh Research Centre

"Without Tommy’s support, we would be unable to continue our work to address the major clinical challenges of preterm birth, stillbirth, maternal obesity and maternal depression and stress."

Read about the achievements of the Tommy's Edinburgh Research Centre

Highlights of research 2017-2018

  • New approach to caesarean section 

    The clinical team have developed a new approach to caesarean section which provides an alternative approach in women with very severe obesity where gaining access to the abdomen is not possible with a traditional skin incision.

  • AFFIRM study results

    The AFFIRM study has quantified the benefit of a fetal movement awareness and management package. The AFFIRM trial is one important piece in the jigsaw of evidence about the best ways to reduce stillbirth. 

Translating research into clinical care 2017-2018

  • Cost savings

    The OPPTIMUM trial has shown that progesterone is ineffective to prevent preterm birth which results in cost savings to the NHS.

  • Birth Mirror

    Fiona Denison won the Medicity DEVELOP prize for customer discovery, the Medicity DEVELOP Engage Invest Exploit Prize, the Medicity DEVELOP runner-up Prize and the Converge Challenge KickStart Digital Entrepreneur Award for her pioneering “birth mirror”. She is now working towards commercialisation of the birthing mirror, planning to launch a crowd-funding campaign in 2019.

  • Integrated ultrasound needle

    Fiona Denison is working on developing an ultrasound needle which can ‘see’. This will make siting regional anaesthesia safer and more effective, particularly in obese women who require effective regional anaesthetic for delivery of their baby. The new ‘SafeTarget’ grant is developing prototype needles which aim to be tested towards the end of 2018/beginning of 2019. 

  • RCOG Green top Guideline on Maternal Obesity

    Work cited in the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) Green-top Guideline on Maternal Obesity, 2018. 

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Read more about our recent research achievements.

Our research centres are independently reviewed every two years by leading professors from around the world. 

In addition, each centre must report its annual progress on key performance measures.

Our impact reports 

Read more about the impact of our work

  • Tommy's clinic impact logo

    Impact of Tommy's clinics 2018

    Our NHS supported specialist clinics deliver a high quality care environment, enabling improved recruitment to clinical trials and faster implementation of research findings.

  • Tommy's information services impact logo

    Impact of Tommy's information services 2018

    Tommy's evidence-based, high quality, comprehensive pregnancy information informs and empowers pregnant women to make healthy behaviour and lifestyle choices, ultimately leading to a reduction in the number of babies who die during pregnancy or birth.

  • A chalk drawing of a graph showing a decline in numbers

    Baby loss rates in the UK

    All of Tommy's work has the same goal. To reduce the number of babies who die during pregnancy or birth. These are the rates of stillbirth, miscarriage and preterm births in the UK.

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