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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 Sep 2, 2013


puff plant

'Love in a puff' (Cardiospermum halicacabum),
courtesy of 'Vietnam Plants & The USA plants'

Image Credit: The Royal Society, UK

Ancient Egyptians chewed white willow bark to relieve
fevers and reduce inflammation, and many years later
scientists discovered that the bark contains salicylic acid,
the active ingredient used to make aspirin. Today we continue
to turn to plants for medicinal uses, such as harvesting the bark
of Yew trees to produce Taxol, a drug used in treating breast cancer.

 From a panel discussion with Professor Dianna Bowles,
Professor Roderick Flower FRS and Professor Monique Simmonds,
chaired by Professor Sir David Baulcombe FRS as part of the
2013 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

WHO Child Growth Charts




Little changes produce large effects

Scientists at the University of York in the United Kingdom, have discovered that very small chemical changes in our diet cause very large effects. Evidence comes from plant products tested on the human immune system.

Plants are capable of making tens of thousands of different molecules (flavinoids). An average leaf for example, produces around 20,000 flavinoids. Many of these are found in a typical diet and some are already known to have medicinal properties effecting health, diseases and general well-being.

Now plant biologists and immunologists at the University of York, UK, have joined forces to examine a very closely related family of these small molecules (flavonoids) to establish how tiny changes to their chemical structures affect their bio-activity.

The research is published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Researchers from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) and the Centre for Immunology and Infection (CII) in the University’s Department of Biology, designed experiments to test the bioactivity of plant-derived flavonoids. Professor Dianna Bowles, a plant biochemist and founding Director of CNAP, led the research with Professor Paul Kaye, the Director of CII, who developed a robust assay system to determine the impact of different plant structures on human cells.

“In measuring how flavonoids affected the production of inflammatory mediators, we found that how a flavonoid scaffold was decorated had massive effects on how cells responded.

"If a methyl group was attached at one site, there would be no effect; methylate another site, and the cells would produce far greater amounts of these inflammatory mediators.

"Therefore, the site of attachment on the structural scaffold was all-important in determining bioactivity of small molecules.

"Plant products in our diet have immense molecular diversity and consequently also have a huge potential for affecting our health and well-being. We are only at the beginning of discovering the multitude of their effects.”

Professor Bowles, in a panel discussion on ‘Nature’s Marvellous Medicines’ at the recent Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

Professor Kaye added: “The research demonstrates the affect the shape of a molecule can have in its recognition by our immune cells. This is really important as we can use information such as this to design new drugs for clinical use, as immunomodulators, for example."

It is now recognized that innate immunity to intestinal microflora plays a significant role in mediating immune health, and modulation of microbial sensing may underpin the impact of plant natural products in the diet or when used as nutraceuticals. In this context, we have examined five classes of plant-derived flavonoids (flavonols, flavones, flavanones, catechins, and cyanidin) for their ability to regulate cytokine release induced by the Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) agonist Pam3CSK4. We found that the flavonols selectively co-stimulated IL-1β secretion but had no impact on the secretion of IL-6. Importantly, this costimulation of TLR2-induced cytokine secretion was dependent on regiospecific methylation of the flavonol scaffold with a rank order of quercetin-3,4′-dimethylether > quercetin-3-methylether > casticin. The mechanism underpinning this costimulation did not involve enhanced inflammasome activation. In contrast, the methylated flavonols enhanced IL-1β gene expression through transcriptional regulation, involving mechanisms that operate downstream of the initial NF-κB and STAT1 activation events. These studies demonstrate an exquisite level of control of scaffold bioactivity by regiospecific methylation, with important implications for understanding how natural products affect innate immunity and for their development as novel immunomodulators for clinical use.

The paper ‘Regiospecific Methylation of a Dietary Flavonoid Scaffold Selectively Enhances IL-1β Production following Toll-like Receptor 2 Stimulation in THP-1 Monocytes’ is published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry www.jbc.org/content/288/29/21126.abstract

The Royal Society Summer Exhibition panel discussion on Nature's Marvellous Medicines, can be viewed at royalsociety.org/events/2013/marvellous-medicine/

The Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) is an award winning strategic research centre based in the Biology Department at the University of York. CNAP is dedicated to realizing the potential of plants as renewable, low-cost factories that produce high-value chemicals and biofuels. Laboratory based discoveries are translated into practice in partnership with industry.

The Centre for Immunology and Infection (CII) is a joint research centre created by the Hull York Medical School and the Department of Biology at the University of York. Research in CII ranges from fundamental studies on the pathogenesis of infectious and non-infectious disease through to first-in-man clinical research. More information on the Department of Biology at York at www.york.ac.uk/biology/

Original press release:http://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2013/research/little-changes-large-effects/