Scientists create mini-placenta’s to study early stages of pregnancy


This is a confocal image of a trophoblast organoid stained for cytokeratin 7, F-actin and Dapi. (Credit: Centre for Trophoblast Research).
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have used organoid culture techniques to create a cellular model of the early stages of the placenta. It is hoped that this will further our understanding of the initial stages of pregnancy and the etiology of various reproductive disorders.

By Kate Bass, B.Sc. |News Medical Life Science

The placenta is an organ that develops during early pregnancy. It attaches to the wall of the uterus, and the umbilical cord arises from it.

All of the oxygen and nutrients needed by the fetus to grow are supplied through the placenta and waste products are removed via the same route. Failure of the placenta to develop properly can result in a range of complications, including the offspring being still-born.

The placenta is absolutely essential for supporting the baby as it grows inside the mother… When it doesn’t function properly, it can result in serious problems, from pre-eclampsia to miscarriage, with immediate and lifelong consequences for both mother and child. But our knowledge of this important organ is very limited because of a lack of good experimental models.“

Dr. Margherita Turco, First Author

Unsuccessful pregnancies are commonly the results of the embryo being unable to implant correctly and form a placental attachment.

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