Placental health and research are a new priority for clinicians

Vitality for reproduction, misunderstanding, and On the list since the 1970s—These are all ways of describing a strong human placenta. The pancake shaped device They form during pregnancy to attach the fetus to the uterus around it. It then works with the umbilical cord to bring nutrients, hormones and oxygen to the developing baby while also removing its waste. Research has shown that placental problems can indicate health problems in the body Both the fetus and the pregnant womanFrom gestational diabetes and preeclampsia to stillbirth and premature birth.

But other than the basics, experts know very little about how the placenta develops and functions. In a recent blog, Diana W. Bianchi, a senior researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), wrote that the placenta “The least understood and least studied member.” She then explains how developing better ultrasound and MRI techniques could help doctors study the placenta during pregnancy, work that the Eastern Virginia Medical School and University of Texas Medical Branch have used to study the placental vasculature, described above.

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So, what is all the mystery surrounding the organ that plays a major role in the birth process? The placenta is almost impossible to reach until the end of pregnancy when the baby is born. Then it is essentially discarded,” says Hemant Suryuanchi, associate professor of reproductive sciences at Columbia University. “Most of our knowledge of the placenta goes back to the third trimester when the pregnancy ends, but that’s the stage when the pregnancy is already complete.”

“The important thing about the placenta is its early stage of development, where it dynamically adjusts its cell number, cell states, and how it interacts with maternal versus fetal tissue,” he adds.

To better understand the placenta in the womb, the National Institutes of Health created human placenta project (HPP) in 2014. Since then, nearly $88 million has been allocated to developing better research techniques to study the organ in real time. In his end, Soirewanshi completed two projects with HPP, starting with 2018 scan of placenta cells in the first trimester. His team also sequenced RNA from the newly developed placenta to begin building the genome map. for him Recently published paper The research continued by mapping the placenta RNA across the last trimester of pregnancy.

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“Our goal was to only see what’s in a ‘normal’ state at the single-cell level and also across the different stages of pregnancy,” says Suyrawanshi. “For example, pre-eclampsia or placenta accreta are diseases that specifically affect the placenta. If you take these tissues from pathological conditions and synthesize their RNA, we have nothing to compare it to — no blueprint, no profile really available. “

Suyrawanshi’s research has coincided with other HPP projects focusing on everything from Determining the sources of the placental microbiome to me Investigation of an organ’s genetic response to environmental pollution. But overall, a central goal of the NIH initiative is to better address health issues related to the placenta — something Swirawanchi believes will require a lot more research. In the future, he hopes to investigate cases of disease at a single-cell level similar to the map of the placenta genome his team has already worked on, and even analyze fetal cells in a pregnant woman’s blood.