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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.

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 ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development
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Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts |News Archive Sept 1, 2014

Medulloblastomas are a family of tumors driven by disruptions in just a few common mechanisms.
Image Credit: Boston Children's Hospital

 






WHO Child Growth Charts

 

 

 

Anti-depressant targets child medulloblastoma

An international research team suggests repurposing an anti-depressant medication to target the molecular pathway that causes an aggressive form of medulloblastoma, the most common brain cancer in children.

The multi-institutional group, led by scientists at Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute (CBDI) of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, believe their laboratory findings could lead to a more effective molecular therapy — and reduce the harmful side effects of current treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Their report appears in Nature Medicine.

"Although current treatments improve survival rates, patients suffer severe side effects and relapse tumors carry mutations that resist treatment. This reearch underscores an urgent need for alternative targeted therapies, and we have identified a potent tumor suppressor that could help a subset of patients with an aggressive form of medulloblastoma," says Q. Richard Lu, PhD, the lead investigator and scientific director of the Brain Tumor Center, at the CBDI of Cincinnati Children's Hospital.


Using genetically-engineered mice to model human medulloblastoma, the authors identified a gene called GNAS that encodes a protein called Gsa.

Gsa kicks off a signaling cascade that researchers found suppresses the initiation of an aggressive form of medulloblastoma driven by a protein called Sonic hedgehog.

Sonic hedgehog is considered one of the most important molecules in tissue formation and development.


The scientists used an anti-depressant medication called Rolipram – approved for behavioral therapy for use in Europe and Japan – to treat mice that were engineered not to produce the GNAS gene. Lack of GNAS allowed aggressive formation of medulloblastoma tumors in neural progenitor cells of the GNAS mutant mice.


In the mice, Rolipram treatment elevated levels of a molecule called cAMP, which restored the GNAS-Gsa pathway's tumor suppression function.

This caused the tumors to shrink and subside. The study also suggests that elevating cAMP levels in cells enhances the potency of Sonic hedgehog inhibitors, currently being tested in clinical trials to fight tumor growth.


The scientists stressed that a significant amount of additional research is needed before their findings could become directly relevant to clinical treatment. The authors also caution that the effect of raising cAMP levels may depend on the type of cancer, and that laboratory results in mice do not always translate uniformly to humans.

Abstract
Medulloblastoma, the most common malignant childhood brain tumor, exhibits distinct molecular subtypes and cellular origins. Genetic alterations driving medulloblastoma initiation and progression remain poorly understood. Herein, we identify GNAS, encoding the G protein Gαs, as a potent tumor suppressor gene that, when expressed at low levels, defines a subset of aggressive Sonic hedgehog (SHH)-driven human medulloblastomas. Ablation of the single Gnas gene in anatomically distinct progenitors in mice is sufficient to induce Shh-associated medulloblastomas, which recapitulate their human counterparts. Gαs is highly enriched at the primary cilium of granule neuron precursors and suppresses Shh signaling by regulating both the cAMP-dependent pathway and ciliary trafficking of Hedgehog pathway components. Elevation in levels of a Gαs effector, cAMP, effectively inhibits tumor cell proliferation and progression in Gnas-ablated mice. Thus, our gain- and loss-of-function studies identify a previously unrecognized tumor suppressor function for Gαs that can be found consistently across Shh-group medulloblastomas of disparate cellular and anatomical origins, highlighting G protein modulation as a potential therapeutic avenue.


Collaborating on the study with Dr. Lu was first author, Xuelian He (MD, a postdoctoral fellow), of the CBDI at Cincinnati Children's and the West China Second Hospital, Sichuan University, in Chengdu, China.

Other collaborating institutions include: The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto; Department of Pathology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas; Department of Pathology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea; the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH); Department of Neurology, Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis; departments of Pediatrics, Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis; Tumor Development Program, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif.

Funding support came in part from the National Institutes of Health (R01NS078092, R01NS075243) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

About Cincinnati Children's: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News and World Report's 2014 Best Children's Hospitals. It is also ranked in the top 10 for all 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children's, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org. Connect on the Cincinnati Children's blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.



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