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Our achievements

How we’ve made a difference over the last 10 years

This is just some of the work we have funded to help women and babies everywhere

Established a Research Midwives Programme in 2013 in conjunction with the Royal College of Midwives and the Burdett Trust for Nursing so midwives can develop clinical academic careers and do research into childbirth and reproductive health to improve care for women and babies.
Repurposing drugs as much needed new treatments for womb cancer. Our recent exciting research has led to two potential new treatments for womb cancer, which has increased in incidence by 21% in the last 10 years. Our researchers found that repurposing the diabetic drug metformin suppressed womb cancer growth, and a second team showed that the drug triamterene, used for high blood pressure, could also be an effective treatment.
Fish oil supplements in pregnancy could be as important as folic acid. In 2014 we funded pioneering research which found that insufficient production of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) affects the development of the baby’s brain. A DHA supplement taken as a fish oil around the time of conception and in early pregnancy could be as vital as folic acid for the unborn baby.
The safe use of CyberKnife technology – targeted radiotherapy – to treat gynaecological cancers. Our project, completed in 2017, provided the evidence to support the use of innovative radiotherapy techniques, such as CyberKnife, to deliver high doses of radiation direct to tumours to treat patients with recurrent gynaecological cancers previously thought to be terminal and untreatable.
Our research into the role of Vitamin D has shown for the first time its importance in regulating the mother’s immune system in pregnancy via the placenta. This will inform new Vitamin D trials and could lead to a simple vitamin supplement being used to help prevent a range of serious pregnancy conditions such as pre-eclampsia, miscarriage and preterm birth.
An International research hub into preterm birth which is the biggest killer of babies and children under 5. In 2015, thanks to Lord and Lady Harris, we established the Harris-Wellbeing Preterm Birth Centre in Liverpool to research it’s causes and to develop new personalised treatments to prevent preterm birth.
We funded the clinical trial RELAX in 2011 to test the use of BOTOX to treat Overactive Bladder Syndrome. As a result BOTOX is now in clinical use as an effective treatment for incontinence caused by an overactive bladder.
Drugs used to treat cancer could be the first ever effective treatment for endometriosis. In 2012 our research discovered that debilitatingly painful endometriosis behaves like cancer. The team is now investigating anticancer drugs to treat endometriosis which could lead to the first new effective treatment for the estimated 1.5 million women suffering from the disease in the UK.
Creation of the unique Baby Bio Bank, the only tissue bank in the world containing samples from both parents and babies. Set up 2009, it contains 7000 tissue samples from families who have had pregnancy complication. It is in demand worldwide for research into conditions such as miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, premature birth.
Maternal neglect or abuse in early life can lead to psychiatric disorders in later life, including post-natal depression and drug addiction. Our 2012 research into the role of neurosteroids in post-natal depression found that women who experience childhood traumas are more likely to suffer from mental health problems and can also transmit this predisposition genetically to their children.
Cooling babies with melatonin and argon gas helps prevent brain damage caused by oxygen starvation at birth. Our research showed that both these new therapies increase the effectiveness of cooling newborns as a treatment to limit brain damage. This has led to melatonin being awarded designated drug status. It is in pre-clincial studies and further work is in progress on argon.
Gene therapy can be administered to small babies in the womb to help them grow to a healthier size. In 2010 our research demonstrated that gene therapy works through the placenta, which helped gain a large grant from the EU to fund the world’s first ever multicentre study in the area of maternal gene therapy in pregnancy.

Our achievements

Baby Bio Bank

Harris Preterm Birth Centre