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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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Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts | News Archive June 3, 2013

 
"The finding of a new ovarian hormone produced by the oocytes capable of stimulating ovarian follicle growth could lead to new infertility treatments,"Aaron J. W. Hsueh, Ph.D.






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A newly discovered hormone makes ovaries grow

New research suggests that human female eggs produce a previously unknown hormone—R-spondin2—which promotes follicle development and stimulates ovary growth.

A newly discovered hormone produced by the eggs of human females may improve the effectiveness of current fertility treatments for women and possibly lead to entirely new treatments altogether. According to new research published in the June 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal, researchers from Stanford and Akira University in Japan identified a new hormone called "R-spondin2" that promotes follicle development and stimulates ovary growth.

"The finding of a new ovarian hormone produced by the oocytes capable of stimulating ovarian follicle growth could lead to new infertility treatments," said Aaron J. W. Hsueh, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Division of Reproductive and Stem Cell Biology in the Department of Obstetrics and Genecology at Stanford University Medical School in Stanford, California.

To make this discovery, Hsueh and colleagues analyzed all the proteins likely made by the eggs, and discovered a previously unknown hormone, called R-spondin2. The researchers then replicated this new hormone in test tubes and injected it into mice.


R-spondin2 hormone stimulated growth of mouse ovarian cells, leading to the generation of mature eggs. These eggs were fertilized and led to successful pregnancies and the delivery of healthy pups.

Then, human ovarian tissue was grafted into mice, and this also grew after treatment with this newly identified ovarian hormone, suggesting that the hormone could work in humans.

The researchers speculate that when used in conjunction with the traditional Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), this newly discovered ovarian hormone could lead to new infertility treatment options for those not responding well to FSH treatment alone.


"Infertility can be very frustrating for couples who have been trying to conceive for a very long time. The discovery of this new hormone is a potential game-changer in human fertility treatment," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, "but further research is needed to determine its efficacy and safety in humans."

FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Our mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to its member societies and through collaborative advocacy.

Details: Yuan Cheng, Kazuhiro Kawamura, Seido Takae, Masashi Deguchi, Qing Yang, Calvin Kuo, and Aaron J. W. Hsueh. Oocyte-derived R-spondin2 promotes ovarian follicle development. FASEB J June 2013 27:2175-2184 ; doi:10.1096/fj.12-223412 ; http://www.fasebj.org/content/27/6/2175.abstract

Original article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-05/foas-and053013.php