Controlling labor


Researchers have discovered the molecules that may control the onset of labor for pregnant women. If they know what controls labor, then they can stop early labor some women experience which leads to miscarriage and complicated deliveries.

Molecules called microRNAs act with hormones to control the start of labor. Therefore, an RNA-based drug might be able to stop premature deliveries.

“With these findings, we understand better the system that controls labor, so with future research we might have the potential to manipulate it and prevent preterm birth,” said Dr. Carole Mendelson, professor of biochemistry and obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’ve been struggling for a long time to understand how progesterone keeps the uterus from contracting during most of pregnancy,” Dr. Mendelson explained. “Our findings indicate that progesterone controls a family of microRNAs whose levels dramatically increase right before labor.”

It’s going to be tricky to work out a drug treatment. The known factors that control the microRNAs are associated with some types of cancers. More research is needed, but this development is a big step toward understanding how labor begins and gives hope to controlling it for those women who experience the complications of early labor.

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center, ScienceDaily


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