Targeting drugs to the placenta in high-risk pregnancies

Stacey Lee, Dr Lynda Harris, Dr Rebecca Jones, Professor Alexander Heazell

Tommy’s researchers have developed a way to deliver drugs directly to inflammation in the placenta.

Underlying issues with the placenta are the most frequent causes of stillbirth. One important underlying issue is inflammation of the placenta. 

There are currently few drugs used to treat this type of inflammation, and the evidence to support the use of these drugs is weak. This is because there is no way of safely getting these drugs to the placenta in pregnant women. For example, when we take a painkiller, the drug circulates through the whole body, even though we may only want to treat a headache. 

Our researchers have developed a way to target drugs straight to the placenta, so that there is limited risk of harm to the unborn child. So far, we have been focusing on treating women who have a high risk of stillbirth. Studies suggest that targeting drugs to where they are most needed can improve the effectiveness of the medicine. 

Read more about Tommy’s previous research into targeted drugs to the placenta.

We plan to use targeted anti-inflammatory medicines to see if they can reduce damage to the placenta in women with a high risk of stillbirth. 

This will provide important information about targeting drugs to the placenta, and will tell us which drugs are most effective at treating inflammation. 

We hope that this project will help us to identify a more precise means of drug delivery that we can test in clinical studies. 

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This research is funded by Tommy's and takes place in a Tommy's centre.

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