Preventing Preterm Problems
Researchers explore the use of small molecules to reduce the risk of preterm birth
Maryam Mahdi | | Quick Read
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Birth before 37 weeks of gestation accounts for 15 million deaths each year, but tocolytics – the drugs used to suppress labor – have limited use. “Currently there are no FDA-approved drugs that reliably halt spontaneous preterm labor (sPTL) – none of the most commonly used tocolytics can delay preterm birth beyond 48-hours,” says Scott Barnett, a researcher at the University of Nevada’s Reno School of Medicine. “This short reprieve, at best provides, a limited window to administer corticosteroids to help develop the infant’s lungs prior to birth.”
And so, with the aim of providing pregnant women with a more effective range of safe medicines, the Iain L.O. Buxton research group, of which Barnett is a senior postdoctoral fellow, has characterized a molecular pathway that contributes to the phenomenon of sPTL, and identified four drugs with the potential to prevent it (1).
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