Researchers grow a placenta in a petri dish

Fetus in the womb, computer artwork.

Enlarge / Fetus in the
womb, computer artwork. (credit: Science Photo Library –

The placenta supports the fetus while it is in utero (and,
according to some, a placenta can even support a rosebush if it’s
buried under one after delivery). We know a placenta is essential
for a successful pregnancy, but we don’t really know exactly how
it works because we’ve had no experimental models we can use to
study it. Until now.

Researchers in England examined all of the signaling molecules
they could find rushing around between the mother and the placenta
(which originates from fetal tissue), figuring they might induce
the placenta to grow and develop. From this analysis they generated
a blend of signaling molecules that they expected could induce
placental formation in a culture dish.

They then obtained cells from first trimester placentas from
women who had had normal pregnancies but decided to abort. These
cells were grown in media that contained the factors identified by
this team. Within a week, the cells were growing into
organoids—small blobs of tissue similar to organs in mature
organisms. The cells seem perfectly happy in this media; at the
time this paper was written, they have been stable for a year.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Researchers grow a placenta in a petri dish