Researchers at the University of Warwick in UK have discovered a new drug target, Kir7.1, for postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) in women.

PPH is a condition that occurs when the uterus fails to contract vigorously after childbirth. It results in the loss of about 500ml or more blood in 24 hours after delivery.

The new drug target, which when inhibited induces an acute and sustained uterine contraction that allows in treating PPH cases.

Warwick Medical School reproductive health associate professor and lead author of the study Dr Andrew Blanks said: "There are currently no drugs available that are effective at treating PPH. PPH is a major global cause of maternal morbidity and mortality, accounting for around 25% of deaths in postpartum mothers in developing nations.

"Drugs designed to this target have the potential to be used at low doses to encourage normal contractions in a clinical induction, so avoiding a long labour, which results in uterine fatigue. High doses could be used to induce contractions to treat acute PPH."

The team, including researchers from University, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Newcastle University, and University of Edinburgh, has been working with Medical Research Council Technology to develop drugs to the new target.

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In the developing world, PPH is responsible for maternal death in one in 1,000 deliveries, while it is complicating around 10% of all births in England and Wales.

Image: Warwick Medical School reproductive health associate professor Andrew Blanks. Photo: courtesy of University of Warwick.