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Link between the Nodal gene and premature delivery may help develop therapies that allow more women to go full term in their pregnancies
Source: Chez Nous (Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC). Dr. Daniel Dufort has a lot to celebrate these days. “I’m very flattered actually, I wasn’t expecting this,” he says of the Pfizer Research Award of Excellence during an interview just one day after his first grandchild was born.
His daughter’s pregnancy had a significant impact on a man who has dedicated his career to researching preterm birth. “It was nerve-wracking actually,” he admits with relief, after watching his daughter go through her pregnancy while knowing that any number of things could occur.
A member of the Child Health and Human Development Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Dr. Dufort and his team made headlines last fall with a breakthrough into a possible cause of preterm births. They studied a gene called Nodal which, through the regulation of the immune system and the inflammatory factors associated with it, appears to determine when contractions will start.
Based on several assumptions, their hypothesis was confirmed, but in their study of mice models, they also saw that in each case, the decrease in the Nodal gene led to a preterm birth.
“Research is ongoing and potential therapies are being developed,” he says.
Perhaps by the time his granddaughter is considering motherhood, these therapies will be widely available.