An interdisciplinary team of medical researchers created a human chip placenta that will provide the perfect medium for analyzing this little known human organ.
The interdisciplinary team is comprised of researchers coming from the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, from the University of Pennsylvania, Seoul’s National University, South Korea’s Asan Medical Center, as well as the Wayne State University.
For years, any studies that have been conducted to better understand how the human placenta works have utilized animal testing or the more recent laboratory-curated human cells. A full-grown placenta is often out of reach as that implies risky procedures for the human body.
This is why the consortium of researchers came together to create the chip placenta, which is in fact a device that uses human cells to recreate the functioning of placenta in the body of a pregnant woman.
According to a statement coming from the consortium of research institutes:
“The device consists of a semi-permeable membrane between two tiny chambers, one filled with maternal cells derived from a delivered placenta and the other filled with fetal cells derived from an umbilical cord”.
The results of the research published in the Journal Of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine indicate a successful advancement of bio-medical technology.
The model was tested by adding glucose in one of the chambers of the chip containing the maternal cells. From there it was successfully transferred to the second chamber where the fetal cells reside via the membrane. The process was swiftly developing in similar fashion to that of nutrients beings transferred from the mother, through the placenta to the fetus.
This new bio-medical device will allow significantly less pricey experiments and trials and increasingly efficient in comparison to experiments conducted on animal subjects. The technology is expected to shed more light on how the placenta develops, how it is discarded by the body and how it experiences disorders.
The placenta develops inside the human body during pregnancy, creating an interface between the growing fetus and its mother. Thus, it transport nutrients and oxygen to the fetus while simultaneously removing waste.
For the fetus is acts as a protective shield as well, fending off bacteria, possible viruses and active components of medication the mother might be ingesting. How far along can it support this protective feature is unknown for researchers.
That is why the chip placenta will aid greatly in understanding traffic through this membrane and the possible factors that can disturb a good functioning of the organ.
The chip placenta is also expected that on the long run it will improve the outcomes of pregnancies in terms of child health.
Image Source: theatlantic.com
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