Premature Birth May Be Reduced By Treating Foetus As Patient: Study

Ally Villar
·3-min read

It’s always best to have everything in your pregnancy life planned out, especially for the most crucial day of finally delivering your baby. But sometimes childbirth creates a schedule of its own and comes at unexpected times, something that most would prefer to avoid as much as possible since it’s known to cause complications. This phenomenon known as preterm birth may be an unexpected occurrence but there are ways on how to prevent premature birth from happening.

In fact, experts have found that premature birth can be reduced among mums-to-be by treating their growing foetus as a patient with a new drug delivery system developed by ILIAS Biologics, Inc. 

Premature Birth Can Be Reduced By Treating ‘Foetus As The Patient’

how to prevent premature birth
how to prevent premature birth

Image Source: iStock

In the latest study published in the journal Science Advances by scientists of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), they found a new medicine delivery system that ‘treats the foetus as the patient’ in order to reduce the possibility of preterm labour and premature birth. 

To prove whether preterm labour really is triggered by inflammation caused by a sick foetus, researchers looked into several important assumptions regarding the relationship between the mother’s health as well as her unborn child. Dr Ramkur Menon and his team from UTMB worked with ILIAS Biologics, Inc. which is a South Korean biotechnology campaign in order to test their bioengineered exosomes as a delivery system for anti-inflammatory medicine directly to the foetus. 

“Exosomes are natural nanoparticles or vesicles in our bodies, and we have trillions of them circulating through us at all times. By packaging the medicine inside a bioengineered exosome and injecting it into the mother intravenously, the exosomes travel through the blood system, cross the placental barrier and arrive in the foetus, where they deliver the medicine,” explained Dr Menon as said on ANI

How They Conducted The Study

Image Source: iStock

Inflammation, which is the leading cause of preterm labour, is believed to occur due to foetal cells or specific immune cells migrating through the mother’s body all the way to her uterine tissues. To prove this, researchers did laboratory tests on mice where they mated the females with the male mice who were genetically engineered with a red fluorescent dye called tdTomato. This causes the male’s cells to turn red which makes it easier to track them when they migrate through the female mice once they mated.

This model that the first author of the report Dr Sheller-Miller developed created a “turning point” in their research as it determined fetal immune cells reaching maternal tissues.

When they managed to get proof of cell migration, scientists then used the model to determine whether bioengineered exosomes would be able to deliver a special anti-inflammatory medicine from the mother’s bloodstream to the foetus. This medicine is an inhibitor of NF-kB which is called suppressor (SR) IkB.

With the exosomes created using ILIAS Biologics, Inc.’s approach called Exosomes engineering for Protein Loading via Optically reversible protein to protein interaction (EXPLOR), the study was able to prove that these exosomes effectively delivered medicine to the foetus. It was also found to have slowed down the migration of foetal immune cells and delay preterm labour.

Other than reducing premature birth, this technology may also be used to package other drugs in exosomes to treat other adverse pregnancy complications.  


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