Repairing damaged fetal membranes in the womb


Dr Tina Chowdhury and her team want to develop the first-ever treatment for premature fetal membrane damage.

Many of these children suffer from long-term health issues, including learning disabilities and problems with sight and hearing.

During a healthy birth, a membrane surrounding the fetus ruptures naturally shortly before labour – known as the water breaking. In some cases this membrane is ruptured too soon, triggering a premature birth. This can cause further complications if bacteria reaches the womb through the rupture, leaving mother and baby at risk of potentially life-threatening infections.

The team are engineering a special material in the laboratory that will allow an expectant mother’s tissue-building cells to access the site of damage and heal the membrane.

This could reduce the number of premature births and rupture-related infections, allowing more children to enjoy a life free of the associated long-term medical conditions and disabilities.

It’s a novel way of thinking for an area of unmet need. The team has a strong reputation in these areas of research and if this method shows success, it could also have wider uses across medicine.

Project overview
Preventing premature birth and the risk of infection to mother and baby
Dr Tina Chowdhury
Queen Mary University, London
Grant: £148,862

Help fund more ground-breaking medical research for seriously ill children and their families.