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Lab grown 'mini-placentas' can mimic early pregnancy

IANS  |  London 

Scientists have created artificial mini-placentas in the laboratory after nearly three decades of research, offering hope for tackling miscarriages, stillbirths and as well as transform research.

The new 'mini-placentas' are a cellular model of the early stages of the and may shed light on mysteries surrounding the relationships between the placenta, the uterus and the foetus and enable research to prevent some passing from the mother's blood to the foetus as well as on Zika virus.

"These 'mini-placentas' built on decades of research will play an important role in helping us investigate events that happen during the earliest stages of and yet have profound consequences for the life-long of the mother and her offspring," explained from the UK's University of

"The supplies all the oxygen and nutrients essential for growth of the foetus, and if it fails to develop properly the can sadly end with a low birthweight baby or even a stillbirth," he added.

For the new study, published in the journal Nature, the team grew organoids often referred to as 'mini-organs' using cells from villi -- tiny frond-like structures -- taken from placental tissue.

These trophoblast organoids are able to survive for long-term, are genetically stable and organise into villous-like structures that secrete essential proteins and hormones that would affect the mother's metabolism during pregnancy.

Further analysis showed that the organoids closely resemble normal first-trimester placentas, that they are able to record a positive response on an over-the-counter pregnancy test.

In addition, these organoids may also be used for screening the safety of drugs to be used in early pregnancy, to understand how chromosomal abnormalities may perturb normal development, and possibly even provide for failing pregnancies.

The 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 to miscarriage, with immediate and lifelong consequences for both mother and child.

Efforts to grow human placental cells started over 30 years ago with scientists studying cellular events of the first few weeks of pregnancy.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 29 2018. 18:50 IST