Thursday, October 29, 2009
New way to 'stop' premature birth
A drug used to treat cancer can stop contractions and may prevent premature labour, researchers say. The Newcastle University team tested the drug Trichostatin A on tissue taken from 36 women undergoing a caesarean. The researchers said the therapy worked by increasing the levels of a protein that controls muscle relaxation. One expert said with rates of premature births rising - there are 50,000 a year in the UK - a new treatment was badly needed.
Preterm labour and birth continue to be the single biggest cause of death in infants in the developed world and around 1,500 babies die in the UK every year. A number of drugs are used to try to stop early labour, but most have serious side effects. Trichostatin A (TSA) is known to promote the death of cancer cells. The researchers got permission to take samples of the muscles of women undergoing caesarean sections at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, the Cellular and Molecular Medicine journal reported.