They develop an artificial placenta capable of explaining some problems in pregnancy
British scientists on Wednesday announced that they created an artificial placenta at an early stage, which could serve as an experimental model to understand why some women suffer from complications during pregnancy or even interruption.
When the placenta is not working properly, "it can cause serious problems like preeclampsia or spontaneous abortion (…) But our knowledge of this important organ is very limited," said Margherita Turco, lead author of the study. in the scientific journal Nature.
Normally, medical research first experiments with animals into the potential and reliability of new ways of treating people. But "human placenta is very different from other species," said Ashley Moffett, professor of pathology at Cambridge University, who has been working for more than 30 years in the culture of placental cells at a press conference.
His team managed to isolate and enlarge trophoblast cells that formed only days after fertilization and then became a placenta and umbilical cord.
Scientists have created what they call "mini-plies", which reproduce the in vitro functioning of real ones and exclude hormones and proteins that change the metabolism of women during pregnancy.
He hopes that this model will allow better study of anomalies in the development of the placenta, which can prevent the embryo from properly implanting or causing problems during pregnancy.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 47,000 women died in 2015 worldwide due to preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure associated with excessive presence of proteins in the urine.
Artificial placenta could also illustrate how the mother's medicines affect the placenta and why some infections go through this natural barrier – like the Zika virus – and others are not as well as dengue, though similar.
Last year, the same Cambridge team managed to reconstitute the culture of the uterine mucosa, the tissue that feeds the inner wall of the uterus and in which the placenta is implanted during pregnancy.