March of Dimes
What we’re working on: a look into labs of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers
Could the microbiome that lives in the cervix be the preterm birth? Promising new research by Dr. Michal Elovitz and her team shows the surprising answers.
Our planet harbors a whole world of diverse and interdependent creatures and habitats. Likewise, but on a far different scale, our bodies are home to a class of exponentially more diverse and symbiotic species—our microbiome. Different communities of these bacteria, billions of them, live in different parts of our bodies, on our skin, in our gut, even in our reproductive organs, and these microbial communities, even at the same body site, can differ from person to person.
Normally, these microbial communities perform valuable and necessary functions we could not live without. However, when these communities get disrupted, it can lead to adverse health outcomes. The microbial communities in the cervicovaginal space have been shown to play a role in vaginal health and disease but their role in pregnancy has remained largely unknown until now. New research, funded by the March of Dimes and directed by Dr. Michal Elovitz, at the University of Pennsylvania Prematurity Research Center suggests that different microbiota living in the cervix and vagina play a key role in regulating the timing of structural changes these organs must undergo for birth to occur, normal or otherwise.