Start: September 2018
End: September 2022
Why do we need this research?
Right now, we do not have a test which can reliably tell us whether a woman will experience pregnancy complications such as slow fetal growth or pre-eclampsia, which can lead to stillbirth. By the time these problems appear there are still no treatments which can reverse them.
Having a reliable test would mean that doctors could intervene at an earlier stage, before these problems occur, which could prevent stillbirth.
What’s happening in this project?
To help diagnose pre-eclampsia after it has developed, doctors can now use a blood test which measures the amount of a hormone called placental growth factor (PlGF). Our scientists are looking into PlGF and what it can tell us about the health of the placenta.
So far, the team have been studying blood and placenta samples donated by 67 women. They have found that low levels of PlGF in the blood is associated with signs of stress in the cells of the placenta.
The team now plan to investigate what causes low levels of PlGF in the blood, and why that is connected to stress in the placenta. They then hope to identify new targets for drugs which could help keep placentas healthy.
What difference will this project make?
Our researchers hope that their work will lead to better methods to predict complications in pregnancy, and new treatments to prevent these from happening. Ultimately, their research could help to reduce the risk of stillbirth.
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.
More research projects
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.