New way to ‘prevent’ premature birth

Research shows drug used to treat cancer could ‘stop’ premature babies

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A drug used to treat cancer can stop contractions and may prevent premature labour. Researchers at Newcastle University tested the drug Trichostatin A on tissue taken from women undergoing a caesarean. The drug works by increasing the levels of a protein that controls muscle relaxation.

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Trichostatin A is normally used to kill cancer cells. “We won’t give this drug to patients because it can damage the genes in a cell. But is shows us that other more specific drugs are worth investigating,” said Professor Nick Europe-Finner, who led the research.

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Professor Jane Norman, from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said, “One of the interesting things about this research is that they are using a new kind of drug – the drugs we are currently using have been around for a long time. When you consider that preterm birth rates are rising, a new more effective drug is badly needed.”

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