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Sarissa Biomedical

The threat of fetal hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain of an unborn child) carries significant dangers for both the child and the woman giving birth. Doctors often proceeding quickly to a caesarean section if they feel there is a significant threat of fetal hypoxia. Current tests for this condition require a laboratory examination of blood samples, often leading to delays, which can prompt doctors to proceed with a caesarean section rather than risk waiting for a full analysis. Now researchers at the UK's University of Warwick, working with the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, have come up with a new sensor, which could dramatically improve the early warning of such a dangerous situation in the birth process. Professor Nick Dale has been looking at the science surrounding a chemical that can be found in blood called Hypoxanthine. An unborn child with more than 5 micromoles (5 millionths of a mole) per litre of their blood is at severe risk of fetal hypoxia. Frustrated at the lack of effective instrumentation available to detect and study this chemical Professor Dale has now devised his own fine tuned probe to examine Hypoxanthine. Scientists believe these probes, which also require less fine tuning than current tests (the blood PH test currently used to detect fetal hypoxia problems needs to identify a shift of as little of 0.05 PH), would give doctors in delivery rooms almost instant data on whether the unborn child faced fetal hypoxia, allowing them to take more informed decisions before proceeding to a caesarean section - significantly reducing the number of unwanted caesareans conducted.