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Researchers Have Successfully Created Artificial Placenta

Initial tests have already shown that the artificial placenta on the chip does in fact behave in a similar way to a natural placenta: small molecules are allowed to pass through, while large ones are held back, the researchers noted.

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Artificial placenta created in lab using 3D printing. Flickr
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Using a high-resolution 3D printing process, Austrian researchers have succeeded in creating an artificial placenta barrier on a chip, a development that can be used to investigate important aspects of nutrient transport from the mother to the foetus.

The placenta ensures the exchange of important substances between the mother and her unborn child, whilst simultaneously blocking other substances from passing through.

“The transport of substances through biological membranes plays an important role in various areas of medicine,” said Aleksandr Ovsianikov, professor at the TU Wien university in Vienna.

“These include the blood-brain barrier, ingestion of food in the stomach and intestine, and also the placenta.”

This can help provide clarity on how the exchange of glucose between mother and child takes place. Wikimedia Commons
This can help provide clarity on how the exchange of glucose between mother and child takes place. Wikimedia Commons

Studies have shown that diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure in the mother can affect the transport of substances to the foetus. Until now however, it has been almost impossible to investigate the way in which the many parameters involved interact in such cases.

Using the 3D printing made it possible to produce customised hydrogel membranes directly within microfluidic chips, which are then populated with placenta cells.

This can help provide clarity on how the exchange of glucose between mother and child takes place, the researchers said.

The novel chip consists of two areas — one represents the foetus, the other the mother. Using a specially developed femtosecond laser-based 3D printing process helped produce a partition between them — the artificial placenta membrane.

The high-resolution 3D printing involved a hydrogel with good biocompatibility.

Also Read: Obesity During Pregnancy May up Kid’s Risk of Epilepsy

“Based on the model of the natural placenta, we produce a surface with small, curved villi. The placenta cells can then colonise it, creating a barrier very similar to the natural placenta,” Ovsianikov explained.

Initial tests have already shown that the artificial placenta on the chip does in fact behave in a similar way to a natural placenta: small molecules are allowed to pass through, while large ones are held back, the researchers noted. (IANS)

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Managing Weight During Pregnancy May Affect Child’s Bone Health

The team analysed prospective data from 2,167 mother-child pairs

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Weight management in pregnancy may affect child's bone health. Pixabay

There is no benefit for children’s bone mass if women gain weight during pregnancy, says a new study.

And this applies to both normal and overweight women prior to pregnancy, says Teresa Monjardino, lead author from the Universidade do Porto in Portugal.

Weight management strategies during pregnancy reduce child cardiometabolic risk such as diabetes and heart disease.

However, because maternal weight has an overall positive correlation with a child’s bone mass, pregnancy weight management could adversely affect child bone health, said the researchers.

The study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, showed that in under and normal weight mothers, weight gain during pregnancy was associated with slightly increased bone mass at 7 years of age in children.

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Weight management strategies during pregnancy reduce child cardiometabolic risk such as diabetes and heart disease. Pixabay

On the other hand, in the case of overweight or obese mothers, no beneficial effect of weight gain on bone mass was observed.

“Until recently, it was a widely held scientific belief that any weight gain from the mother during pregnancy would have a beneficial effect on children’s bone mass,” said Monjardino.

Also Read- Poor Aerobic Fitness Increases Risk of Diabetes in Kids

“Our study results corroborate that there is no benefit in gaining weight above the US Institute of Medicine recommendations for pregnancy weight gain for children’s bone mass, in both normal and overweight women prior to pregnancy,” added Monjardino.

The team analysed prospective data from 2,167 mother-child pairs. (IANS)