Repairing damaged fetal membranes in the womb Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) 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 If you want to support more pieces of groundbreaking research, please consider making a donation or taking part in a fundraising event for Sparks.