8 November 2016
A new drug has shown early promise in the prevention of premature births, one of the leading causes of death in children under five years of age.
University of Adelaide researchers have assessed the potential benefits the drug plus-naloxone - known for its abilities to switch off pro-inflammatory pathways - can offer in preventing preterm birth in a group of lab mice.
By treating pregnant mice with this drug, complete protection against preterm birth triggered by bacteria was achieved, with infant fatalities significantly reduced and low birth weights normally associated with preterm birth also reversed.
Babies born to mothers treated with plus-naloxone were shown to develop normally and were largely indistinguishable from those born to the control group.
Although more research is needed before the drug can be tested in human subjects, these findings show it may be possible to intervene at an early stage to reduce the risk of premature birth.
Study leader Professor Sarah Robertson, director of the Robinson Research Institute, said: "Our studies give us some encouragement that it may be possible to prevent many preterm births by using drugs that target the body's inflammatory mechanisms, probably in combination with antibiotics as well."
Posted by Philip Briggs
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