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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 ' million visitors each month.

WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform
The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a new Web site to help researchers, doctors and patients obtain reliable information on high-quality clinical trials. Now you can go to one website and search all registers to identify clinical trial research underway around the world!




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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 weeks 0 - 40 and follow fetal growth
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September 16, 2011--------News Archive

Preschoolers' Math Performance Predicts Later Skill
Study reveals how early number sense and elementary math scores are related.

Estrogen Reverses Severe Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is a rare and serious condition that affects 2 to 3 million individuals in the U.S., mostly women, and can lead to heart failure.

September 15, 2011--------News Archive

Protein In Heart Target for Colon Cancer Therapies
A protein critical in heart development may also play a part in colon cancer progression.

Defining Hereditary Deafness
The precise diagnosis of disease and developmental syndromes often depends on understanding the specific genetics underlying each.

Engineers Probe Mechanics Behind Progeria
Pulling the tail of mutated protein could help illuminate problems with it's misfolding.

September 14, 2011--------News Archive

A Vaccine for TB?
A potential vaccine against tuberculosis has been found to completely eliminate tuberculosis bacteria from infected tissues in some mice.

Controlling Stem Cell's Form Can Determine Its Fate
The scaffolding on which stem cell cultures are grown has more influence on the new shape and function of those cells than ever expected

September 13, 2011--------News Archive

Improving Women and Children's Health Worldwide
For less than $100, poor, pregnant women in India can give birth in a private hospital for low-income families, comparable in quality to expensive, private ones.

Found: Gene for 3 Child Neurodegenerative Diseases
Leukodystrophies are inherited disorders affecting the white matter of the brain and abnormally interferring with nerve impulses transmitted through axon cells.

Fast-Paced, Fantasy TV Affects Learning In Children
Young children who watch fast-paced, fantastical television shows may become handicapped in their readiness for learning.

September 12, 2011--------News Archive

Common Gene Associated With Aortic Dissection
Multi-institutional study reveals risk factor that doubles chance of developing silent killer.

Critical Similarity Between Two Stem Cell Types
Natural stem cells and laboratory induced stem cells (IPCs) create the same proteins.

WHO Child Growth Charts

The vaccine was created with a strain of bacteria that, due to the absence of a few genes, are unable to avoid its host’s first-line immune response. Once this first-line defense has been activated, it triggers the more specific immune response that can protect against future infections.

The research, by scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Colorado State University, appears in the September 4, 2011, issue of Nature Medicine.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is a global health concern, accounting for 2-3 million deaths annually. One third of the world's population is infected with the bacterium, and according to the World Health Organization, new infections occur at a rate of about one per second.

Most people who are infected don't get sick, because our immune system keeps the bacteria under control. However, people whose immune systems are weakened, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are highly susceptible to the active form of the infection. With staggering rates of HIV infection in some parts of the world, such as Africa, co-infection with TB is a serious problem.

To make matters worse, some strains of M. tuberculosis have become resistant to every drug currently used to treat tuberculosis.

"We're back to where we were before there were drugs for TB," says William R. Jacobs, Jr., an HHMI investigator at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The only vaccine currently use, called Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), hasn't been consistently effective at protecting against the disease.

BCG is a weakened strain of the tuberculosis bacteria that triggers the production of protective antibodies in some people. Although Jacobs and others have tried tinkering with BCG to make it more effective, "we've only been able to slow down the growth of M. tuberculosis," Jacobs says. "We haven't been able to kill TB with a vaccine until now."

In the first part of the work, Jacobs and colleagues investigated a set of genes called esx-3 that is found in all mycobacteria. Previous research had suggested that mycobacteria need esx-3 to protect themselves from their hosts’ innate immune systems, a first-line defense against pathogens that responds to invaders quickly, but non-specifically.

Jacobs and his team wanted to see if deleting the genes would affect the bacterium's virulence, but they couldn't do this directly with M. tuberculosis, because the bug can't live without that set of genes. Instead, the researchers deleted the genes from a closely related but usually benign bacteria, Mycobacterium smegmatis, which can tolerate the deletion.

They then infected mice with the M. smegmatis bacteria. Although the dose they injected was high enough that M. smegmatis with intact esx-3 genes rapidly killed the mice, an equivalent dose of the modified bacteria caused no harm -- apparently because the immune system was able to find and kill bacteria that lacked esx-3.

These findings suggested that esx-3 plays a key role in protecting M. smegmatis from innate immunity. A key feature of innate immunity is that unlike adaptive immunity, innate immunity does not confer lasting protection against subsequent infections by the same pathogen.

The research team named their modified strain of M. smegmatis “IKE” for immune killing evasion. Next, they inserted esx-3 genes from M. tuberculosis into the IKE strain, creating a new strain of M. smegmatis they called IKEPLUS. They thought this maneuver would restore the bacterium's ability to evade innate immune killing.

To their surprise – and initial disappointment – that wasn't what happened. The IKEPLUS strain was just as susceptible as IKE to the mouse immune response. In fact, IKEPLUS induced an unusually strong adaptive immune response known as Th1 immunity (named after the T helper cells that coordinate it).

As lead author Kari Ann Sweeney and Jacobs dejectedly pored over the data, they had a flash of insight. "We said, 'Maybe we're just looking at this the wrong way. Maybe what we've really done is made the ideal vaccine vector. We have M. smegmatis eliciting Th1 immunity, and now that we've put in a bag of TB antigens, these mice might be protected against TB,' "says Jacobs.

To test that possibility, the researchers gave five IKEPLUS-immunized mice – and a control group of five unimmunized mice – massive, intravenous doses of M. tuberculosis.

All five of the unimmunized mice were dead within five days; all the IKEPLUS-immunized mice were still alive 40 days later. Two of the IKEPLUS mice survived to 90 days, and one of those lived to 343 days after infection with M. tuberculosis.

Jacobs's group repeated the experiments with more mice and compared the effects of IKEPLUS immunization with those of BCG immunization.

"We consistently protected mice better with IKEPLUS than with BCG," Jacobs says.

What's more, when the researchers analyzed tissues from IKEPLUS-immunized mice that survived more than 200 days after exposure to M. tuberculosis, they found that the bacteria had been completely eliminated from the animals' livers.

"This is something we've dreamed about for years, to be able to get longer protection and bactericidal immunity," says Jacobs, whose group went on to explore the mechanism involved and found that IKEPLUS induces a shift in the CD4+ T cell response. Also known as T helper cells, CD4+ T cells are white blood cells that activate and direct other immune cells.

The next steps will be teasing out additional details of the mechanism and improving the IKEPLUS vaccine.

"We only get about 20 percent of the mice that are really long-term survivors, and it may be that we need to put in additional antigens," Jacobs says.

"That's something we need to figure out. But nevertheless, IKEPLUS is different from any other TB vaccine, and it's a new tool for the TB arsenal."

Original article: http://www.hhmi.org/news/jacobs20110904.html