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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 SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal 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 HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
Click weeks 0 - 40 and follow fetal growth
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November 4, 2011--------News Archive

Identifying Brain Cells That Keep Us Awake
Researchers at UCLA have identified the group of neurons that mediates whether light arouses us — or not.

TBL1X Gene Involved In Autism Spectrum Disorder
An X-chromosome-wide association study in autism families identifies TBL1X as a novel autism spectrum disorder candidate gene in males.

“Love Hormone” Helps Direct Development of Brain
Hormones released from nerves regulate a series of vital body processes, including the balance of fluids and uterine contractions in childbirth.

November 3, 2011--------News Archive

Steroids in Preemies Impair Brain Growth
Premature infants given drugs to support lung maturation and normalize blood pressure, are at increased risk for having impaired growth of the cerebellum.

Potential Treatment for Sickle Cell Disease
Increasing the expression of proteins TR2/TR4 can lead to higher fetal hemoglobin levels in sickle cell patients.

New Drug Shows Promise Against Multiple Sclerosis
A new drug targets a molecule - CD20 found on the surface of B cells and B cells seem to induce the immune system T cells to attack.

November 2, 2011--------News Archive

Babies Understand Each Other at Ten Months Old
At 10 months, babies start to understand another person’s thought process, providing new insights on how communication develops.

Bacteria Swap Genes Between Species Readily
Microbes have developed a quick and effective way to exchange genetic information from animals to humans.

Pinpointing Cause of Unexplained Miscarriage
The same kind of blood-clotting in coronary arteries or blood vessels in the brain which causes heart attacks and strokes also happens in the placenta.

November 1, 2011--------News Archive

Pregnant Mothers At Risk From Air Pollution
A Californian-based study has looked in detail at air quality and the impact of traffic-related air pollution on premature birth.

Linking A Spectrum of Childhood Diseases
An international collaboration of scientists has identified a genetic mutation causing a rare childhood disease characterized by inflammation and fat loss.

Placenta and Uterus Battle Becomes Preeclampsia
A battle brews in the mother’s womb between the father’s biological goal to produce the biggest, healthiest baby possible vs. the mother’s need to live through delivery.

October 31, 2011--------News Archive

Fetal Heart Rate Not a Good Indicator for Health
Maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Intermountain Medical Center seek better 'road map' to improve deliveries, healthier babies.

Swedish Discover Bisphenol A Affects Newborn Brain
An observed effect induced in neonatal baby mice after exposure to Bisphenol A, persisted into adulthood.

Not Your Mother's Birth Control
Today's hormonal forms of birth control are vastly different from those used by earlier generations of women, both with lower levels of hormones and with different means of delivery (not just a pill), but many of the same problems related to women's pleasure remain.

WHO Child Growth Charts

An experimental drug called Ocrelizumab has shown promise in a Phase 2 clinical trial involving 220 people with multiple sclerosis (MS), an often debilitating, chronic autoimmune disease that affects an increasing number of people in North America. It usually strikes young adults and is more common in women than in men.

The study, carried out by researchers at UCSF Medical Center, and involving hospitals in the United States, Canada, and Europe, is described this week in the British medical journal Lancet.

The study involved patients with relapsing-remitting MS, a form of the disease marked by the accumulation of lesions in the brain and spinal cord and periodic “attacks” of neurological impairment.

The 220 patients were randomly enrolled into four groups – two that received injections of the monoclonal antibody Ocrelizumab at two different doses, one that received the standard multiple sclerosis drug interferon-beta, and one “control” group that was given a placebo.

The doctors gauged the effectiveness of each treatment by performing monthly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of the patients and counting the number of visible marks that indicate inflamed lesions, a hallmark of the disease. They also compared the severity and frequency of neurological “attacks” that cause loss of vision, incoordination, weakness and numbness, among other symptoms.

The results of this trial showed that patients who received the drug generally fared well and showed fewer signs of the disease than patients who receive a placebo or the standard Interferon treatment. Overall, the trial found that Ocrelizumab led to a 89 percent reduction in the formation of brain lesions, and it also reduced the number of new multiple sclerosis attacks over 24 weeks. During this relatively short-term study, interferon performed no better than placebo on these outcomes.

“It really is a remarkable finding,” said Stephen Hauser, MD, the Robert A. Fishman Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at UCSF who was the senior author on the study. “This is extremely exciting, both in terms of the prospect of improved therapy for people with multiple sclerosis but also for the lessons that it teaches us about the fundamental cause of the disease.”

“The prospect of an extremely effective therapy for multiple sclerosis that can be safely administered at six month intervals could represent a major step forward, if the safety profile and benefits are sustained over longer periods of use,” he added.

At 24 weeks, serious adverse events were reported in 4 percent of patients in the placebo arm, 4 percent of those taking interferon, and 2 percent and 6 percent of patients taking 600 mg and 2000 mg of Ocrelizumab.

One patient taking Ocrelizumab died, but the relationship with the study drug, if any, is as yet unclear.

Hauser said that the next step for the drug will be to see if the drug’s effect and positive safety profile will be sustained over time. These questions will be addressed in two parallel Phase 3 trials, now enrolling a larger number of patients who will receive the drug regimens for a longer period of time. This trial is now underway at several hundred sites around the world. Hauser serves as lead investigator for these trials, which are sponsored by Roche, the company that owns Ocrelizumab.

What the Trial Suggests About Multiple Sclerosis
Besides the obvious question of whether the drug would work, also under scrutiny in the clinical trial was whether a drug like Ocrelizumab would work in the first place. Its mechanism of action is fundamentally different than other existing therapies for multiple sclerosis. All multiple sclerosis drugs work by targeting a person’s immune system – only they target fundamentally different parts.

In multiple sclerosis, a person’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath that insulated nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Most of these attacks have no associated symptoms, but damage to these sheaths can short circuit signals traveling along the nerve fibers. This disrupts the normal flow of communication from the brain and can cause a range of symptoms – including visual impairment, weakness, sensory disturbance, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and loss of coordination.

For decades, work in the field has focused on targeting one component of the immune system – the T cells – which were always seen as the “smoking gun” of the disease because they attack nerve fibers in the brain, causing the lesions and ultimately the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Ocrelizumab, in contrast, targets a molecule called CD20 found on the surface of B cells, a separate component of the immune system.

Although the mechanism is not exactly clear, said Hauser, the B cells seem to induce the T cells to attack. If T cells are pulling the trigger on nerve fibers in the brain, B cells seem to be the ones that are loading the gun. The Phase 2 trial showed, in essence, that if you block one, you may be able to stop the other.

Hauser said the recently concluded trial validated the idea that targeting the B cells could ultimately help people with multiple sclerosis – an idea that Hauser has championed for more than a decade after basic research in his laboratory in the 1990s suggested that these cells play a role in the disease.

“This is a great example of lessons learned at the bench bringing us to an experiment at the bedside that completely transformed our understanding of what we needed to do to develop more selective and more effective therapy for MS,” he said.

This work was funded by Roche.

The article, “Ocrelizumab in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a phase 2, randomised, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial” by Ludwig Kappos, David Li, Peter A Calabresi, Paul O’Connor, Amit Bar-Or, Frederik Barkhof, Ming Yin, David Leppert, Robert Glanzman, Jeroen Tinbergen, and Stephen L Hauser is published online by the journal Lancet on Nov. 1, 2011.

In addition to UCSF, the authors of this study are affiliated with University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland; University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada; VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, CA; Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, Basel, Switzerland.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

Original article: http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2011/11/10874/new-drug-shows-promise-against-multiple-sclerosis