Researchers have successfully managed to develop "mini placentas" or placenta organoids in transformable laboratories, research on pregnancy, conception, stillbirth, miscarriages and pregnancy diseases and disorders.
The results of the study of developing these organoids have been published in the latest issue of the journal Nature.
These organoids can successfully mimic the placenta in its early stages during the first trimester explain the researchers. This means that the drugs or diseases that affect the placenta during this phase and lead to miscarriages can be studied. In fact these tiny placents are so like the real placenta that they can also test for a pregnancy test the team explains. Ashley Moffett, a senior research team and professor of reproductive immunology at Cambridge University confirmed this saying, "If pregnancy sticks to the medium from the organoids it reads 'pregnant'."
The team explains that studying a placenta within the womb has been notoriously difficult till date. The healthy placenta develops and attaches to the walls of the womb and supplies nutrients and oxygenated blood to the growing embryo and fetus. It is not only secret hormones and chemicals that allow the fetus to also excretes the waste generated by the growing fetus. The placenta also secretes hormones into the maternal blood stream that helps carry the pregnancy successfully. These phenomena can not be studied in humans till now. With the development of organoids, now the researchers can understand the functions and workings of the placenta in details. Moffett said, "We can now begin to do experiments on how placental development occurs in the uterine environment."
The team used cells from the villi of the placental tissue. These villi are hair like structures of the normal placenta. These placental cells when grown in the lab can organize into multi-cellular clumps or structures that can act like the real placenta by secreting proteins and hormones. These are the sizes of a millimeter to half a millimeter and can be stored in a form only to be used before use.
Experts in the research have had this research and have said that it would provide affordable insights into common pregnancy disorders including still births, growth restriction within the uterus (IUGR) and pre-eclampsia. The infections of the fetus such as Zika and how they could also be studied were added.
Lead author of research, Margherita Turco, in a statement said, "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, to immediate consequences for both mother and child." The team added that this would also be possible in testing teratogenic drugs or drugs that could harm the unborn baby if administered to the mother. Placental organoids would also be a source of stem cells therapists in failing or threatened pregnancies the team explained. In short, there are several uses of these organoids in pregnancy research.
According to Moffett, "It has taken a number of years and has mini-placentas which we know will grow in the laboratory for at least a year."
Posted in: Medical Research News | Women's Health News