Imperial College London

Miscarriage research centre could help thousands of families

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The UK's first national clinical research centre dedicated to early miscarriage is to open at Imperial College London.

The National Early Miscarriage Centre, which will be funded by Tommy’s - the UK baby charity that funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth - will comprise a partnership between Imperial College London, the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick.

By harnessing the expertise at the new national centre, we have a real opportunity to start giving women the answers they need

– Professor Tom Bourne

Faculty of Medicine

The three sites will run specialist clinics enabling 24,000 women per year to access treatment and support and participate in Tommy’s research studies.Tommy’s aims to halve the number of miscarriages by 2030 by funding medical research to understand the cause and effect of miscarriage.

Professor Tom Bourne, from the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Imperial, said: “We are almost always asked four questions by women after a miscarriage: Why did it happen? Was it my fault? Will it happen again? Can I reduce the risk of it happening in a future pregnancy? By harnessing the expertise at the new national centre, we have a real opportunity to start giving women the answers they need.”

The centre, which will be the largest of its kind in Europe, builds on established collaborations between research groups at the universities. Opening on the 1st April, it will seek to understand why miscarriage happens, if it is likely to happen again, how to prevent it, and how to provide appropriate aftercare.

The collaboration harnesses the complimentary areas of research expertise in the three universities in areas ranging from endometrial biology, metabolomics, microbiome studies, psychology, biomarker discovery and ultrasonography to running large clinical trials. At Imperial, the centre will be based clinically at the Early Pregnancy Unit at Queen Charlottes and Chelsea Hospital and the Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic at St Mary’s Hospital.

While miscarriage is by far the biggest cause of pregnancy loss in the UK, it’s also the least understood.

Many miscarriages, for example, are caused by chromosomal abnormalities, but there is currently no test which makes it cost-effective for the NHS to test every miscarriage. One of the research projects aims to change this. The research will also look into the role of bacteria in miscarriage, as well as investigating new biomarkers to help identify mechanisms for miscarriage.

Miscarriage causes untold heartbreak: 200,000 mothers and their partners are affected every year, with 85 per cent of miscarriages occurring within the first 12 weeks. Parents often receive no answers when it happens. The research centre will seek to understand better the emotional effects of miscarriage.

Professor Phillip Bennett, Director of the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Imperial, explained, “As a doctor, I wish I could give my patients the answers they are looking for. The thing is, we have the expertise, the technology, the drive - we just need the funding. Tommy's National Miscarriage Centre is the most promising chance yet of making breakthroughs in early miscarriage.

Jane Brewin, CEO of Tommy’s said, “Medical science doesn’t fully understand miscarriage which is why funding and research is so critical. Through pioneering medical research, Tommy’s clinicians will save babies’ lives by turning their discoveries into screening tests and treatments and launch clinics for pregnant women who are most at risk, giving them the latest improvements in care. They’ll share their work in national clinical guidelines, preventing miscarriages and developing better care across the country.”

The centre will also develop a training programme for doctors and nurses wishing to specialise in the clinical management as well as research methodology in early pregnancy.

For more information visit Tommy's 

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Kate Wighton

Kate Wighton
Communications and Public Affairs

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 2409
Email: k.wighton@imperial.ac.uk

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