Project Code: 10467925
Faculty: Liggins Institute
Department: Liggins Institute
Main Supervisor: Professor Frank Bloomfield
Principal investigator: Dr Mark Oliver
Application open date: 10 Sep 2020
Application deadline: 30 Jun 2021
Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International
Failure of the placenta to supply enough nutrition and oxygen to a baby during pregnancy can lead to fetal growth restriction (FGR) and small size at birth. FGR decreases a baby’s chances of survival and can have lifelong adverse consequences. Globally, at least 1/3 of all cases of FGR are missed before birth, putting these babies at risk of stillbirth.
We have preliminary data indicating that measuring a hormone called C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) in maternal blood may tell us about the levels of oxygen in the blood of their fetuses. It is low oxygen that is responsible for stillbirth, so if maternal blood CNP concentration is indeed a reliable marker of fetal oxygen content, this could lead to the development of a simple test of fetal wellbeing.
This study will test this hypothesis in sheep. If successful, this will lead on to appropriate clinical studies investigating the potential of CNP in human pregnancy.
Applicants must meet the University of Auckland's entry criteria for PhD programmes.
The project will involve both an experimental study in sheep with direct measurement of fetal oxygen levels in both healthy and growth-restricted fetuses and an observational cohort in women referred for ultrasound assessment of fetal growth.