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CTR study on mini placentas makes Guardian 2018 science stories list

last modified Jan 08, 2019 12:59 PM
The miniature placenta study by Margherita Turco and her CTR colleagues has been featured in a list of science stories that shook 2018 by The Guardian

Any woman who has suffered a miscarriage is likely to worry about what she has done “wrong”; a woman at the end of her pregnancy who is afflicted with the serious condition pre-eclampsia will wonder why it afflicted her in particular. Both situations, common as they are and with all their accompanying distress, are likely to arise from problems with the placenta. But it is difficult to determine this, since the human placenta is hardly available off the shelf for easy study.

A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge have made a breakthrough permitting them to create a 3D (that’s important in order to simulate reality) “organoid”, clusters of cells derived from the placentas of aborted foetuses. These have been shown to grow and produce proteins, sufficiently mimicking the real thing that a pregnancy test gives a positive result. This mini-placenta, only a millimetre or less across, offers the promise that the origin of the developmental abnormalities that lead to the embryo not correctly implanting in the womb can finally be understood. For many women, this insight could prove transformative. Clearly, there is a long way to go from creating the first mini-placentas to answering the fundamental questions, but this study appears to provide a critical step forward.

Read the full article at The Guardian website

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