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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 Nov 25, 2014

Selenium occurs naturally in our bodies and is also found in the liver and kidneys. As an
antioxidant, it inhibits oxidation of molecules reducing free radicals - which injure cell walls.




Women's fertility linked to selenium in diet

Selenium is a natural antioxidant critical to female fertility.

Selenium deficiency is not usually a problem in Western diets, except in people who avoid red meats, fish and vegetables rich with in selenium, or eat food grown in selenium-deficient soil.

"Selenium is an essential trace element found in protein-rich foods like red meat, seafood and nuts. It is important for many biological functions, such as immune response, thyroid hormone production, acting as an antioxidant to help detoxify damaging chemicals.

"We've known for some time that selenium is important to men's fertility, but until now no-one has researched how this element could be involved in healthy reproduction in women."

Melanie Ceko PhD, School of Chemistry and Physics
The University of Adelaide, Australia

The discovery was made through joint research between the University of Adelaide School of Chemistry and Physics, Australia, and the Robinson Research Institute, New Zealand. Thanks to the use of facilities at the Australian Synchrotron in Victoria, researchers led by Associate Professor Hugh Harris and Professor Ray Rodgers, were able to pinpoint exactly where selenium is located in the ovary. They then turned their attention to the selenoprotein known as GPX1.

"Our findings show that selenium and selenoproteins are at elevated levels in large, healthy ovarian follicles. We suspect they both play a critical role as an antioxidant during the late stages of follicle development, helping create a healthy environment for each egg.

"We identified that gene expression of GPX1 was significantly higher - in some cases double - in egg cells that yielded a pregnancy."

Melanie Ceko PhD, department of Chemistry, University of Adelaide.

Ceko's investigation of selenium and the GPX1 selenoprotein, shows how critical selenium is to ovarian follicles. A follicle is periodically stimulated to grow and develop a single oocyte (egg) in humans only once every menstrual cycle — or once a month. It is estimated that a woman begins puberty with about 400,000 follicles.

"Infertility is a significant problem in our society, with one in six couples in Australia being infertile. Further research is needed to understand how selenium levels could be optimized to help improve conceptions.

"Too much selenium can also be toxic. So it isn't simply a case of taking supplements."

Melanie Ceko PhD

This research is published in the international journal Metallomics.

Studies of selenium (Se) status indicate that Se is necessary for fertility but how precisely is not known. We aimed to show that Se was important in bovine female reproductive function. The elemental distribution in the bovine ovary (n = 45 sections) was identified by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) imaging. Se was consistently localized to the granulosa cell layer of large (>10 mm) healthy follicles. Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry revealed tenfold higher Se in the bovine follicle wall compared to corpora lutea. Gene expression analysis of selenoprotein genes GPX1, GPX3, VIMP and SELM in bovine granulosa cells revealed that only GPX1 was significantly up-regulated in large healthy follicles compared to the small healthy or atretic follicles (P < 0.05). Western immunoblotting identified GPX1 protein in bovine granulosa cells of large healthy follicles, but not of small healthy follicles. To assess if GPX1 was important in human follicles, cumulus cells from women undergoing IVF/ICSI with single embryo transfer were collected. Oocytes and embryos were cultured and transferred independently in 30 patients undergoing elective single embryo transfer. Gene expression of GPX1 was significantly higher in human cumulus cells from cumulus–oocyte complexes yielding a pregnancy (P < 0.05). We present the first XRF imaging of mammalian ovaries showing that Se is consistently localized to the granulosa cells of large healthy follicles. We conclude that Se and selenoproteins are elevated in large healthy follicles and may play a critical role as an antioxidant during late follicular development.

The research has been supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

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