New biorepository to help uncover mysteries of pregnancy and childbirth

10 APRIL 2012 – Laying a foundation for discoveries that will improve maternal, newborn and child health everywhere, PMNCH member the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS) has created the world’s first ever standardized, widely accessible repository of high-quality specimens linked to data from diverse populations of pregnant women. The repository was designed to support research on normal and abnormal pregnancies, including how pregnancy affects maternal and child health after delivery. The collection includes contributions from women representing a range of racial, ethnic, regional and socioeconomic backgrounds.

In addition to being a vital resource for investigators exploring the causes of preterm birth and stillbirth, the repository will support a wide variety of research areas including genetics, epidemiology and pathophysiology, as well as translational science and healthcare delivery.

"While pregnancy specimen biobanks have been developed before, this is the first time that specimens paired with information about mothers and their pregnancies have been made widely accessible," said Craig Rubens, MD, PhD, executive director of GAPPS. "The GAPPS Repository provides a critical resource for maternal and child health researchers to study multiple factors at different points throughout pregnancy."

The repository will enable researchers to:

  • Discover biomarkers to identify women and babies at risk for preterm birth and stillbirth
  • Create screening tools for potential preterm births or stillbirths
  • Translate scientific discoveries into promising diagnostic, treatment and prevention strategies
  • Conduct studies focused on other poor birth outcomes and the fetal origins of adult diseases, with the potential for determining causes and developing cures for both acute and chronic diseases.