Start: August 2017
End: April 2020
Why do we need this research?
Premature birth can cause health problems for babies, and is a leading cause of death in children under 5 years old. However, when a mother goes into labour too early, the treatments we use to delay birth or prevent health problems for the baby aren’t always effective. We need to find better treatments for women in preterm labour, to give premature babies the best possible start in life.
What’s happening in this project?
Researchers funded by Tommy’s have previously shown in lab experiments that drugs normally used to prevent heart disease could also delay premature birth. These drugs, called statins, work by reducing inflammation, which cause health problems for mother and baby during and after preterm labour. Statins also appear to reduce the contractions of the muscle cells which line the womb. One drug, called pravastatin, has already been shown to be safe to take during pregnancy, and may also delay birth according to early trials.
Our researchers now want to test pravastatin in a clinical trial with pregnant women at risk of premature birth. To do this, the team have set up the PIPIN study, which will find out whether it is feasible to give pravastatin to women in preterm labour. The trial will recruit 40 women at risk of preterm birth, who will be offered the drug (or a placebo) for a week or until birth. Finding out how many women would agree to take the drug, and whether it can be given at the right time before birth, is crucial information to help set up large scale trials in the future.
What difference will this project make?
The PIPIN study will lay the foundations for larger studies which will test how effective pravastatin is at prolonging premature labour. This work could ultimately lead to a new treatment to prevent premature birth, and reduce the chances of health problems for babies.
Get our research updates
Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.
Read more on this topic
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.