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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. Initally designed to evaluate the internet as a teaching tool for first year medical students, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than one million visitors each month.

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 SemestersFetal 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 HemispheresFemale Reproductive SystemEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterSecond TrimesterFirst TrimesterFertilizationDevelopmental Timeline
CLICK ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development
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News Alerts  May 4, 2013--------News Archive

 

 
Only 5% of our genetic material are genes that encode proteins. The remaining 95% is known as dark genome or non-coding DNA and its function is still unknown.





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‘Dark genome’ is involved in Rett Syndrome

Researchers have identified alterations in noncoding long chain RNA sequences (lncRNA) in Rett syndrome. Overall, their findings indicate that the transcriptional dysregulation of lncRNAs upon loss of Mecp2 contributes to Rett syndrome and highlights the complex interaction between non coding RNAs (ncRNAs) and coding-RNAs.

IncRNA molecules act as supervisory agents responsible for 'switching on' or 'switching off genes in our genome that regulate neuron activity.


Dark genome

Only 5% of our genetic material are genes that encode proteins. The remaining 95% is known as dark genome or non-coding DNA and its function is still unknown. Part of this DNA produces RNA molecules called noncoding long chain RNA (lncRNAs).


Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disease and it is the second most common cause of mental retardation in females after Down syndrome. Clinical symptoms occur between 6 and 18 months after birth and consist of a loss of cognitive, social and motor capacities accompanied by autistic behaviors, eg, stereotypic hand movements.


Today there is no effective treatment of the disease, but control of the symptoms. The syndrome is usually due to the presence of a mutation in MeCP2 epigenetic gene that, as a magnet, regulates the expression of many other genes of the cell.


Esteller's team works with a mouse model that faithfully reproduces the characteristics of the human Rett syndrome. In this study, researchers compared the expression of long chains of  RNA in healthy and diseased animals and found that the presence of mutations in the Mecp2 gene causes alterations in the activity of lncRNA.

One such altered lncARN regulates the function of a key neurotransmitter in the nervous system in all vertebrates brain (GABA receptor). "Its alteration," says Esteller, "could explain the defects of communication between neurons in girls affected by Rett Syndrome."

According to Manel Esteller "this finding, in addition to increasing knowledge about the causes of the disease, could open the door to new therapeutic strategies that target lncRNA molecules or GABA receptor."

These findings have been published in the journal RNA Biology by a team at the Epigenetics and Cancer Biology Program at IDIBELL led by Manel Esteller, and ICREA researcher and professor of genetics at the University of Barcelona.

The study was supported by the Department of Health of the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Catalan Institute of Advanced Studies (ICREA), the Spanish Ministry of Health (E-RARE), the European Project EPINORC DISCHROM and the Fondation Lejeune (France) and the Catalan Association Rett Syndrome.

Article reference
Petazzi P., Sandoval J., Szczesna K., Jorge O.C., Roa L., Sayols S., Gomez A., Huertas D. and Esteller M. Dysregulation of the long non-coding RNA transcriptome in a Rett syndrome mouse model. RNA Biology, 10(7), 2013
.

Original article: http://www.idibell.cat/modul/noticies/en/549/dark-genome-is-involved-in-rett-syndrome