If there are defects in the lining of the womb when a baby is conceived, a woman may be more likely to miscarry. At the moment, we’re not sure exactly why this can lead to recurrent miscarriages. However, we do know that women who miscarry multiple times have a lot of unusual activity in genes that affect inflammation of the womb, wound healing, and the immune system.
We want to find out if there are particular genes that make repeated miscarriage more likely. To do this, we are studying DNA found in samples of the womb lining.
So far, scientists have looked at tissue from the womb linings of 36 women. They found that problems with stem cells – unspecialised cells that can make any other type of cell in the body– are related to defects in the lining of the womb. What’s more, these can last over several conceptions. The problems happen when these cells are 'exhausted': that is, they stop being able to renew themselves enough.
Researchers also removed genetic material from the cells in the endometrium, which is now being analysed to look for ways of predicting miscarriage.
We hope that this project will help us find particular signs we can look for in the lining of the womb to tell when women are at risk of miscarriage, even before getting pregnant.