Borne's Scientific Collaborative
In early 2020, Borne consulted with a global group of preterm birth experts on what was holding back the advancement of preterm birth research, and how Borne might direct its efforts to accelerate progress. The experts agreed that the answers to the questions that continue to confound scientists and medics are likely to lie at the seams between different areas of scientific focus and specialisation.
Members of this group have since come together as a Collaborative to work on advancing our understanding of term and dysfunctional labour with a view to accelerating the translation of discoveries into new treatments to delay preterm labour and improve outcome for babies.
Preterm labour is a complex syndrome. We need to understand the nuanced phenotypes and a woman’s individual risk factors if we are to make progress. This cannot be achieved by researchers working in isolation. This is where interaction with a collaborative and a shared bioresource has the power to be transformative.”
Prof Rachel Tribe, King’s College London
We are all doing fantastic research, making inferences and drawing conclusions on the data that we collect. But we are like the blind men and the elephant. The hardest thing is seeing the whole picture.
Prof Steve Lye, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Toronto
The Collaborative would like to systematically study the biological interactions across different cells and tissues to advance our understanding of normal and dysfunctional labour and identify new interventions to delay or prevent preterm labour.
The unique resource that would power this ground-breaking collaboration are clinical centres of excellence that can provide carefully phenotyped samples from women when they are about to go into labour, and the analysis of the invaluable data generated with these samples by bioinformaticians (the pattern-seekers) and scientists (the hypothesis generators) – together.
Borne's Uterine Mapping Project (BUMP)
Clinical Centres of Excellence
One or more clinical centres will drive the recruitment of pregnant women to join the BUMP initiative and contribute a variety of maternal tissue when they deliver their babies. These women’s clinical phenotypic profiles will be carefully recorded, and the samples collected and processed in accordance with protocols and techniques specified by this collaboration of scientific experts.
As the link between clinician and patient, research midwives are central to this project. They will not only recruit a diverse cohort of pregnant women, but also augment capacity at the frontline, ensuring the best care throughout pregnancy and childbirth.
Advancing Discovery with Big Data
We need to harness cutting-edge bioinformatic technologies and artificial intelligence to extract a comprehensive array of scientific data from these samples, and engage with the Borne Collaborative and their scientific teams across different specialisations to better understand the complexity of the integrated biological processes that enable pregnancy and birth.
The cross-tissue analysis facilitated by the bioresource will enable scientists to validate their work as part of the ‘bigger picture’. This will spark breakthroughs in understanding by bridging the gap between different areas of specialisation.
In addition, this precious bioresource of tissue from a diverse and well- documented cohort of women should attract more researchers to access and contribute to the project with their hypotheses and analyses.
The project will create an invaluable open-source map representing the collective knowledge of this world-class group of scientific experts. Importantly, it will extend the scope and context of their work to accelerate the advancement of knowledge and discovery in ways that are simply not possible without collaboration.
It is a new way of approaching discovery science to crack the code on premature birth.
Borne is initially funding a proof of concept study and will invite research organisations across the UK to put forward proposals to test what is proposed by the Collaborative, from sample collection and processing through to data generation and analysis. This is with a view to supporting a full scale implementation of BUMP in support of sustaining a global collaboration.
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