Recently, we found that women who suffer from recurrent miscarriages don’t have enough of a special type of cell in the lining of their wombs: stem cells. These are unspecialised cells that can turn into many other types of cell.
The cells in the womb are renewed often, for example after your period when the lining of the womb regrows. A similar process happens after childbirth. For the cells in the womb to be replaced, we need stem cells. Without them, our body tissues age faster – this in turn can cause inflammation that could be harmful to the growing baby, leading to miscarriage.
We think that in some women, there aren’t enough stem cells in the womb because a particular enzyme – called DPP4 for short – is too active. This enzyme can stop stem cells getting from the blood into the lining of the womb.
Importantly, we know that a drug called sitagliptin (a new drug used to treat diabetes) can stop this enzyme from working. Tommy’s are supporting the first ever research into using this drug to help increase the number of stem cells in the womb.
The SIMPLANT trial aims to find out if sitagliptin can increase stem cells in the wombs of women who have had multiple miscarriages. We have now reached our target of enrolling 37 women from across the UK. They will be randomly chosen to take either sitagliptin, or a placebo. At the same time, scientists are studying the effects of DPP4 and sitagliptin on cells in the laboratory.
The findings of this study will help us on the journey to understanding why miscarriage happens.