You are here: Premature birth research: delaying early labour

Why is this research important?

All newborn babies are vulnerable, but those born very early are particularly so. Treatment with the hormone progesterone can reduce a woman’s chances of going into labour early if she’s at high risk of doing so, however, many women still have their babies early even if they’re treated with progesterone, and this hormone doesn’t help women who are carrying twins.

Professor Johnson is the Clinical Chair of Obstetrics at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and a leading expert in the study of preterm birth.

What are we investigating?

The research team at Imperial College London, led by Professor Mark Johnson, is investigating whether combining progesterone with a medicine called aminophylline is more effective than
progesterone treatment alone in prolonging pregnancy in women at risk of preterm labour. Both progesterone and aminophylline have previously been used safely during pregnancy.

One of the actions of aminophylline is to increase the level of a muscle relaxant known as cAMP which occurs naturally in the body. By investigating the combined effect of progesterone and aminophylline, the researchers also expect to gain a better understanding of what causes preterm labour and how progesterone and cAMP affect pregnancy at a molecular level.

Image of a cAMP molecule: A combination of cAMP and progesterone could help prevent the onset of labour.

What we hope to achieve

If combination therapy with aminophylline and progesterone proves to be effective, wider use could reduce the rates of both death and life-long disability resulting from preterm birth. This could have a major impact on a leading cause of childhood death worldwide.

“Our ultimate goal is to stop babies from being born too soon, save their lives and protect them from disability" says Professor Johnson

Help save tiny lives

The team is now a third of their way through their project but we urgently need to raise the final £15,000 to fund this vital research.

If you make a donation today and support Professor Johnson's research, you will be playing a vital part in helping to improve treatments to prevent early labour, saving more tiny lives.

100% of your gift will go towards this research project.