Postpartum bleeding is the world’s leading cause of death for women during and after childbirth, and the third-leading cause in the United States alone. Many doctors in developing countries have turned to the drug misoprostol to save more women from deadly hemorrhaging.
Misoprostol, although affordable, has dangerous side effects, including uterine cramping, heart attack, toxicity in the brain and spinal cord, fetal death and fetal heart abnormalities.
Development of a safer drug to counter postpartum bleeding may be on the horizon, based on new research by the Bridge Institute at the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience and the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory based at Stanford University. The work appears in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
With the laboratory’s powerful X-ray laser, the scientists created a 3-D map of the structure of a cell receptor as it binds to misoprostol. This is a key step for identifying the best potential molecules for drug development.
“Misoprostol is a key drug for women’s health, especially in countries that lack access to medical resources, where it saves many mothers’ lives at childbirth,” said corresponding author Raymond Stevens, director of the Bridge Institute and Provost Professor of Biological Sciences and Chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Read more+