Several drugs already in use have potential as treatments for pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction, by improving blood flow in the placenta. This means that it is easier for the baby to get the food and oxygen it needs in the womb.
We studied some of these drugs in mice, to find out how well they work and to make sure they are safe for use in pregnancy. We found that sildenafil (better known by its brand name Viagra), improves the function of blood vessels taken from human placentas. We have also shown in a small study in Canada that Viagra improves the growth of babies with FGR.
Based on the results of this small study, the Medical Research Council has provided £3m to fund a multi-centre clinical trial of Viagra for the treatment of FGR. The Manchester Placenta Clinic is playing a major role in this study, and we hope that it will pave the way for effective treatments for fetal growth restriction.
The UK study finished recruitment ahead of schedule this year, which is almost unprecedented in this sort of study. This was mainly due to our Placenta Clinic, which recruited 41 women out of a total of 126 nationwide.
Dr Elizabeth Cottrell, Dr Sarah Finn-Sell, Dr Mark Dilworth, Dr Sue Greenwood, Dr Mark Wareing, Professor Philip Baker, Professor Sandy Davidge, Professor Colin SibleyHide details
This study takes place in a Tommy's centre and is funded by the Medical Research CouncilHide details