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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 Nov 12, 2013

 

Illustration of  glioma formation

Image credit: Astro Brain Tumor Fund







WHO Child Growth Charts

 

 

 

mTOR pathway could lead to glioblastoma treatment

Investigators at Johns Hopkins have found a known genetic pathway to be active in many difficult-to-treat pediatric brain tumors called low-grade gliomas, potentially offering a new target for the treatment of these cancers.

In laboratory studies, researchers found that the pathway, called mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), was highly active in pediatric low-grade gliomas, and that mTOR activity could be blocked using an experimental drug, leading to decreased growth of these tumors.

"We think mTOR could function as an Achilles heel. It drives cancer growth, but when mTOR is inhibited, the tumor falls apart,"  says study co-author Eric Raabe, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics, oncology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

The work was described Nov. 7 in the journal Neuro-Oncology.


Overall, brain tumors affect more than 4,000 children each year in the United States, and they are the leading cause of cancer deaths in children, according to Raabe. Low-grade gliomas are the most common group of tumors of the central nervous system in children.

Current treatments for these tumors include surgery and chemotherapy, which often cause significant side effects. Many of these tumors are located in areas like the optic pathway, where they can't be easily removed by surgery without causing damage, including blindness.

In addition to vision loss, some of Raabe's patients have endured paralysis or learning problems as a result of the tumor or treatment.


"Even though these tumors are considered 'low grade' and not particularly aggressive, many patients suffer severe, life-altering symptoms, so we desperately need better therapies," says Raabe.

For the study, the Johns Hopkins investigators studied tissue samples from 177 pediatric low-grade gliomas, including the most common type — tumors called pilocytic astrocytomas — from patients treated at Johns Hopkins and other centers. They also tested the effect of blocking mTOR with an investigational agent known as MK8669 (ridaforolimus) in two pediatric low-grade glioma cell lines.

The mTOR pathway has been shown to be active in a variety of cancers, and drugs that block proteins in the pathway, such as rapamycin, are widely available. The pathway signals through two protein complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, which lead to increased cell growth and survival.


The researchers found activity of the mTORC1 pathway in 90 percent of low-grade gliomas studied, and 81 percent of tumors showed activity of both mTORC1 and mTORC2.

Components of the mTOR pathway were more commonly found in tumors from optic pathways compared with those from other areas of the brain, according to Fausto Rodriguez , M.D., senior study author and assistant professor of pathology and oncology at Johns Hopkins.


The scientists also found that the mTOR-blocking drug caused up to a 73 percent reduction in cell growth over six days in one cell line, and up to a 21 percent decrease in cell growth over four days in a second cell line.

"Since the pathways are more active in some areas of the brain, compared with others, it suggests that the outcomes of drug treatments targeting those pathways may differ as well," says Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and Raabe say they hope to build on the research in animal models and test additional inhibitors.

Abstract
Using immunohistology, electron microscopy, electrophysiology and optogenetics, we found that proliferating adult mouse hippocampal neural precursors received immature GABAergic synaptic inputs from parvalbumin-expressing interneurons. Recently shown to suppress adult quiescent neural stem cell activation, parvalbumin interneuron activation promoted newborn neuronal progeny survival and development. Our results suggest a niche mechanism involving parvalbumin interneurons that couples local circuit activity to the diametric regulation of two critical early phases of adult hippocampal neurogenesis.

Nature Neuroscience (2013) doi:10.1038/nn.3572
Received 19 August 2013 Accepted 08 October 2013 Published online 10 November 2013

The work was supported by the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation, the PLGA Foundation, the Pilocytic/Pilomyxoid Fund, the St. Baldrick's Foundation, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation and Ian's Friend Foundation.

Study co-authors were Marianne Hütt-Cabezas, Smit Shah, Deepali Jain, and Charles Eberhart of Johns Hopkins; Matthias Karajannis and David Zagzag of NYU Langone Medical Center, New York; Iren Horkeayne-Szakaly of the Joint Pathology Center in Silver Spring, Md.; Elisabeth Rushing of University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland; and J. Douglas Cameron of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Original press release: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/common_genetic
_pathway_could_be_conduit_to_pediatric_tumor_treatment