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Welcome to The Visible Embryo, a comprehensive educational resource on human development from conception to birth.

The Visible Embryo provides visual references for changes in fetal development throughout pregnancy and can be navigated via fetal development or maternal changes.

The National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development awarded Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovative Research Grants to develop The Visible Embryo in 1993 as a first generation internet teaching tool consolidating human embryology teaching for first year medical students.

Today, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than 1 million visitors each month. The field of early embryology has grown to include the identification of the stem cell as not only critical to organogenesis in the embryo, but equally critical to organ function and repair in the adult human.

The identification and understanding of genetic malfunction, inflammatory responses, and the progression in chronic disease, begins with a grounding in primary cellular and systemic functions manifested in the study of the early embryo.


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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
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December 13, 2012--------News Archive Return to: News Alerts


Scanning electron microscope image of newly developed foam biomaterial
with just the right amount of random stickiness so that stem cells can adhere
and grow into mature tissue cells.






WHO Child Growth Charts

       

Stem Cell “Sticky Spots” Recreated by Scientists

Randomly distributed sticky spots which are integral to the development of stem cells by maximising adhesion and acting as internal scaffolding have been artificially recreated by experts for the first time

Using synthetic foam type materials to mimic the natural process – known as the extracellular matrix or ECM – scientists, from the University of Sheffield and University of California San Diego, created the random stickiness required for stem cells to properly adhere.

The findings will better inform researchers across the world of how to make their biomaterials appropriately sticky for stem cells to grow.

Professor Giuseppe Battaglia of the University’s Department of Biomedical Science explains: “We used two polymers, one that is sticky and one that is not, which separate from each other in solution.

Just like with balsamic vinaigrette, we shook these two polymers up sufficiently to form randomly distributed nano-scopic patches of the sticky material – the balsamic vinegar –in a non-sticky material, just like the olive oil.

To put it another way, these two materials phase separate within the foam to give you regions distinctly of one material or the other.”


At the appropriate ratio of sticky to non-sticky polymer,
the researchers found that it is possible to tune the size
and distribution of the foam’s adhesive regions:
having less sticky polymer in the foam made its
adhesive patches smaller and more dispersed,
just like in the human body with natural
extracellular matrix or ECM.


Professor Battaglia and Priyalakshmi Viswanathan, who performed most of the experimental work, added: “What was surprising to the team was that when we allowed stem cells to adhere to the foams, we found that random stickiness versus uniform stickiness was required for stem cells to properly adhere. We also found that this is likely necessary for stem cell development into mature tissue cells.


"In this sense, stem cells are like Goldilocks: the scaffold should not be too sticky or not sticky enough, it must be just right to maximize adhesion, and later, maturation into tissue cells.”

Professor Giuseppe Battaglia
University of Sheffield, Department of Biomedical Science


The data was published following a collaboration between Professor of Synthetic Biology from Sheffield Giuseppe Battaglia, and Assistant Professor of Bioengineering from San Diego Adam Engler in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and was highlighted in this week’s issue Nature.

The work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and Human Frontiers Science Program
Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, and 2007).

These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world. The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.

Original article: http://shef.ac.uk/news/nr/stem-cell-sticky-spots-giuseppe-battaglia-1.231189