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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

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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Preeclampsia Test can Quickly Identify Dangerous Condition During Pregnancy

Researchers at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center have developed a fast, easy test to diagnose preeclampsia

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A new test can quickly identify a common and dangerous condition during pregnancy and help keep mothers and babies healthy and safe. VOA

A new test can quickly identify preeclampsia, a common and dangerous condition during pregnancy and help keep mothers and babies healthy and safe.

When Jessi Prizinsky was pregnant with her first child, her feet started swelling.

“Well, you hear, everybody tell you, you know, the swollen ankles, and get your feet up and all that,” Prizinsky said. “That was where I thought, ‘OK.’ And then it started to be, it kind of looks like it’s in my arms and hands, too.”

Most women expect some swelling when they are pregnant. But these symptoms can also be signs of preeclampsia.

It’s a complication of pregnancy that raises the mother’s blood pressure and affects the blood flow to the placenta. This can lead to smaller or premature babies. Untreated, it can be fatal to mom, or baby, or both.

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Most women expect some swelling when they are pregnant. But these symptoms can also be signs of preeclampsia. Pixabay

Fast, easy test developed

Researchers at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center have developed a fast, easy test to diagnose preeclampsia. That’s where Dr. Kara Rood practices maternal and fetal medicine.

“One of the hard parts with preeclampsia is there’s a lot of symptoms of just pregnancy alone, and other medical conditions that have similar symptoms that the women experience, like high blood pressure, headaches, changes in vision. Those can be attributed to a lot of other things,” Rood said.

Preeclampsia is more serious if it occurs earlier in the pregnancy, or in a woman who had high blood pressure before getting pregnant.

Rood says managing this condition early is best for both mothers and babies.

Pixabay
Researchers at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center have developed a fast, easy test to diagnose preeclampsia. That’s where Dr. Kara Rood practices maternal and fetal medicine. Pixabay

“Without the certainty of this test aiding in the diagnosis,” she said, “we as providers are definitely overcautious, as this is definitely something we don’t want to miss because of the life-threatening results of a misdiagnosis for moms and babies.”

ALSO READ: No Access to Proper Treatment for Disabled Victims in Syrian War

Listen to your body

Because of her preeclampsia, Prizinsky was induced three weeks early. She had a successful second pregnancy and has this advice for other women.

“The biggest thing is listening to your body,” she said.

The test is so easy, women can take it at home, and preeclampsia can be treated as soon as it develops. The researchers expect the test to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the next few years. (VOA)