Breaking news from Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Warwick is that a drug designed to tackle diabetes could also be re-purposed as the first treatment to prevent miscarriage by targeting the lining of the womb.
Previous research found that women who experience recurrent miscarriages do not have enough stem cells in the lining of their wombs.
Researchers identified an enzyme – called DPP4 for short – which they believe is too active in women with a history of recurrent miscarriage. This enzyme can stop stem cells getting from the blood into the lining of the womb.
A new class of diabetes drug – sitagliptin – targets this enzyme. Researchers investigated whether reducing this enzyme using the drug would increase the number of stem cells in the lining of the womb and improve conditions for pregnancy.
In a pilot clinical trial, 38 women aged 18 to 42 who had experienced a high number of recurrent miscarriages were given either a course of sitagliptin or a placebo for three menstrual cycles. Biopsies of the womb were taken at the start of the course of treatment and afterwards to determine the number of stem cells present.
Researchers found an average increase in stem cell count of 68% in those women who took the full course of sitagliptin. This compares to no significant increase in those in the control group receiving an identical placebo pill. They also saw a 50% decrease in the number of ‘stressed’ cells present in the lining of the womb. Although the research was specifically designed to test whether the presence of stem cells in the womb could be increased, follow-up of participants found that there were no further losses of normal pregnancies in those who took sitagliptin.
The treatment now needs to be further tested in a large-scale clinical trial. If successful, it would be the first treatment targeted specifically at the lining of the womb to prevent miscarriage.
It’s great to see the old message that miscarriage is ‘just one of those things’ being proved so wrong and that more people will be given renewed hope on their journey towards parenthood.
Image from Pixabay