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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.


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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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December 30, 2011--------News Archive

Success in Making The Spinal Cord Transparent
Stimulating damaged nerve cells to regenerate has been the goal of medicine. Now it is possible to trace nerve paths in a transparent spinal cord section.

Brain Glial Cells Are Much More Than Glue
Glia cells also regulate learning and memory, new research finds.

Stress Can Slow Skin Cancer, At Least Sometimes
Chronic stress is an affliction mostly limited to modern man. However, acute stress is an important response to dangerous situations and can speed recovery.

December 29, 2011--------News Archive

FDA Warning On Change to Infant Acetaminophen
Recent dosing changes to liquid infant acetaminophen, has the FDA urging parents to read the labels. The new form of the popular pain reliever is less concentrated.

Detox Your Diet!
Harvard School of Public Health wants us all to eat food without chemicals as much as possible to avoid changing our own and our kids' body chemistry.

Discovery of Brain Cell Malfunction in Schizophrenia
Schizophrenic brains reveal less flexibility in some histones (the spools that wind DNA) blocking gene function. The problem is more pronounced in young sufferers.

December 28, 2011--------News Archive

When "A Rose by Any Other Name" Is Not
Children and adults do not classify information in the same way.

Childhood Hypersensitivity Linked to OCD
Adult onset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder could be connected to oral and tactile sensitivities seen in childhood.

Gene Critical for Development Linked to Arrhythmia
Altering the function of a gene called Tbx3 interferes with the development of the cardiac conduction system causing potentially lethal arrhythmias of the heartbeat.

December 27, 2011--------News Archive

Reversing Autoimmune Disease in Mice
A team of scientists has turned the tables on an autoimmune disease.

An Altered Gene Tracks RNA As It Edits Neurons
Biologists use technology to observe individual differences in fruit flies

Mother-Toddler Relationship Linked to Teen Obesity
The quality of the emotional relationship between a mother and her young child could affect the potential for that child to be obese during adolescence.

December 26, 2011--------News Archive

Severe Congenital Disorder Reversed in a Mouse
Adding a sugar to water during pregnancy protects embryos from defects.

lincRNAs Pivotal In Brain Development
Long intervening non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) play key roles during brain development in zebrafish. Now human versions are substituting for the zebrafish.

Balancing the Womb
New research hopes to explain premature births and failed inductions of labor.

WHO Child Growth Charts

What Is Your BMI?

       



A remarkable feature of the uterus (the womb) is that it remains relatively relaxed for the nine months of pregnancy carrying the baby safely, and then during labor, contracts forcibly until the baby is born.

A special type of smooth muscle that grows and stretches during pregnancy to accommodate the fetus and the placenta forms the uterus. Hormones such as oxytocin or prostaglandins promote labor, but the biochemical changes that allow the switch from relaxation to contractions to happen are not fully understood. This makes it difficult to predict when a woman is going to deliver.

In eight to ten per cent of women delivery occurs too early (preterm labour, before 37 weeks’ gestation) and prematurity is associated with major risks for the baby. On the other hand when labour has to be induced for medical reasons, it is impossible to know whether the induction will be successful or whether it will require an emergency caesarean section with risks for the mother and baby.

Using small biopsies of uterine tissue from women who delivered at St Michael’s Hospital, Dr Hudson has demonstrated that contractions require both a calcium dependent pathway driven by myosin kinase and a calcium independent pathway that regulates the activity of myosin phosphatase.

Dr Hudson has also pinpointed precisely the position of the amino acids in myosin and myosin phosphatase that are adding the phosphate (phosphorylation) during cycles of contraction and relaxation of uterine smooth muscle.

Dr Claire Hudson said: “This study has increased our understanding of the biochemical changes underlying uterine activity and may help in the design of better drugs to prevent preterm labour or to induce labour successfully at term, benefiting many thousands of women and their babies.”

Andrés López Bernal, Professor of Human Reproductive Biology, added: “Our research will lead to better control of labour, whether stopping or starting it and it could be extended to the study of the non-pregnant uterus to improve our understanding of menstruation and to identify alterations responsible for painful periods or excessive menstrual blood loss.”

A key aspect of smooth muscle contractions is the addition of phosphate to certain muscle proteins called myosins, and is usually stimulated by increasing the level of calcium inside the cells. The balance of myosin phosphorylation and de-phosphorylation (removal of phosphate) is finely regulated by myosin kinases and myosin phosphatases, respectively, and in pregnancy this equilibrium determines whether the uterus is relaxed or contracting.

Alterations in the kinase/phosphatase equilibrium and its regulation by calcium can make the uterus more sensitive to oxytocin and other hormones that trigger labour and provoke preterm birth.

On the other hand, alterations that favour relaxation may make the uterus contract poorly and result in failed induction of labor.

The work was funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust.

The researchers, Dr Claire Hudson and Professor Andrés López Bernal in the School of Clinical Sciences and Dr Kate Heesom in the University Proteomics Facility and the School of Biochemistry, have discovered that phosphorylation of uterus proteins at specific amino acids have a key role in the regulation of uterine activity in labor.

Paper: Phasic contractions-relaxations of isolated human myometrium are associated with Rho-kinase (ROCK)-dependent phosphorylation of myosin phosphatase targeting subunit (MYPT1). Claire A Hudson, Kate J Heesom, and Andrés López Bernal. Molecular Human Reproduction (MHR) first published online December 8, 2011 doi:10.1093/molehr/gar078.

Original article: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2011/8138.html