Diagnosis and Treatment of Pre-Term Labor

Description Pre-term birth is a serious medical problem in the U.S. with almost half a million babies born prematurely each year. In spite of all recent medical advancements, the premature birth rate continues to climb and the reasons remain unknown. Pre-term birth is the leading cause of neonatal death, although even the smallest babies have a better chance of surviving than in the past. Babies born prematurely often have many health problems, some of which persist into adult life. Despite a major effort by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, there is currently no factor or combination of factors to predict premature labor in women with no clinical risk factors. Current drugs used in attempts to arrest pre-term labor are not very effective and produce side effects for both the mother and baby. The development of a method to diagnose and treat pre-term labor is urgently needed.

Researchers at the University of Hawai‘i have shown that a cytokine expressed by the human fetal membranes contributes to both normal spontaneous labor and infection-induced pre-term labor. There is little understood about this cytokine that appears to be at the proximal end of the pathway to labor initiation, but it could be useful as a marker to indicate whether a woman has commenced labor at term or pre-term. In addition, the blocking of either the production or action of this cytokine could block labor initiation.

Applications Alternate method to diagnose and treat pre-term labor over current drugs with side effects. Applicable as a diagnostic marker for the initiation of labor. Main Advantages Potential new method to stop the labor process. Determination of the function for a novel cytokine.

Type of Offer: Licensing

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