Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR) is an important condition which affects 8 out of 100 pregnancies and means that the baby does not grow in the womb as well as it should. At the moment there is no treatment. There is also no way to predict and prevent fetal growth restriction from occurring. Sadly some babies die in the womb and others have to be delivered prematurely. Babies who are small and premature can have serious health problems immediately after birth and as they grow; some babies may even die after birth.
The EVERREST project is aiming to develop a treatment for fetal growth restriction. The most common cause is a lack of sufficient blood flowing to the womb via the mother’s circulation. This results in a lack of nutrients and oxygen to the developing baby. Our previous research has shown that increasing blood flow to the womb using localized maternal VEGF gene therapy can improve fetal growth. The aim of the project is to carry out the first trial of this therapy in pregnant women whose babies are most severely affected by fetal growth restriction to test out its safety and efficacy. Potential benefits from the research could include reduced stillbirths and neonatal deaths, and improved neonatal and long term outcomes in pregnancies affected by severe early onset fetal growth restriction.