Pregnancy and birth

Using bioengineering to prevent infertility

Wellbeing of Women has invested £199,267 in Professor Molly Stevens and Richard Smith’s project to treat a condition that causes infertility and pregnancy loss

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For many women and families who have experienced pregnancy loss, the prospect of having children again is a great source of hope.

However, a number of women who have had surgery as part of their miscarriage may have scarring in their womb as a result – which can tragically cause infertility and further pregnancy loss.

The scarring, otherwise known as Asherman Syndrome, affects 18.5% of women who have had this surgery and in moderate to severe cases can cause infertility.

But at the moment, there aren’t tailored, effective ways of treating it.

In Richard Smith and Professor Molly Steven’s exciting project, they want to bioengineer a special injectable gel which could be used to treat the scarring.

The gel will be made from something called decellularized tissue extra cellular matrix (ECM), a material that has been used for years in reconstructive surgery and wound healing but has only recently been shown to prevent scarring and help tissue regenerate.

The team, which includes PhD student Maxine Chan with guidance from Honorary Clinical Lecturer Dr Srdjan Saso, is working on truly pioneering research which could be a gamechanger for women affected by Asherman Syndrome.

What Professor Smith and Stevens find out about the condition along the way will also help to fill gaps in experts’ knowledge about it.

As well as womb scarring following miscarriage, the findings could also open up new possibilities for treating complications as a result of endometriosis and pelvic surgery – helping even more women in the process.

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