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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Biorepository Opens to Help Uncover Mysteries of Pregnancy and Childbirth

The Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children's, has launched an internationally accessible biorepository to advance innovative research of both normal and abnormal pregnancies, including how pregnancy affects maternal and child health after delivery. Named the GAPPS Repository, it is the only collection of specimens linked to detailed information from pregnant women that is available to a wide range of researchers.

High quality specimens such as maternal blood and urine, cervical vaginal swabs, placenta tissue, and cord blood, are collected from the first trimester through the postpartum period. The specimens are paired with information about the mothers' preconception, current pregnancy, environmental exposures, medical and reproductive history, mental health, nutritional intake, and behaviors.

"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 GAPPS Repository was created to:
• Help researchers discover biomarkers and create screening tools to identify women and babies at risk for preterm birth and stillbirth
• Translate scientific discoveries into promising diagnostic, treatment and prevention strategies
• Conduct studies focused on poor birth outcomes and the fetal origin of adult diseases, with the potential for determining causes and developing cures for both acute and chronic diseases

"Many adult health problems can be traced to fetal development," Dr. Rubens said. "With these specimens, researchers can begin to understand what causes adverse pregnancy outcomes, and develop novel interventions to prevent them.\\\\\\\"

The GAPPS Repository currently has more than 9,000 individual specimens available to scientists, with 800-900 specimens being added each month. The collection includes contributions from women representing a range of racial, ethnic, regional, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

GAPPS Repository lab scientists oversee each step in the sample collection and storage process in order to build and maintain the highest quality specimen bank. In addition, GAPPS upholds strict standards of privacy and confidentiality, with materials identified only by number and participant names kept in protected files at each collection site.

"My first pregnancy resulted in a premature birth, and when I heard about the GAPPS Repository during my second pregnancy, I wanted to help advance the pregnancy and childbirth research that is happening," said Leslie Tuomisto, a GAPPS Repository donor. "Donating took very little effort; it was just providing samples that were already being taken anyway."

To request specimens, scientists can visit http://www.gapps.org/repository or email gappsrepository@seattlechildrens.org.

URL: http://www.gapps.org/repository

Contact Person: Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (gappsrepository@seattlechildrens.org)