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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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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?

       




Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have discovered that DNA stays too tightly wound in certain brain cells of schizophrenic subjects. The findings suggest that drugs already in development for other diseases might eventually offer hope as a treatment for schizophrenia and related conditions in the elderly.

The research, now available online in the new Nature journal, Translational Psychiatry, shows the deficit is especially pronounced in younger people, meaning treatment might be most effective early on at minimizing or even reversing symptoms of schizophrenia, a potentially devastating mental disorder associated with hallucinations, delusions, and emotional difficulties, among other problems.

“We’re excited by the findings,” said Scripps Research Associate Professor Elizabeth Thomas, a neuroscientist who led the study, “and there’s a tie to other drug development work, which could mean a faster track to clinical trials to exploit what we’ve found.”

A Promising New Field

Over the past few years, researchers have increasingly recognized that cellular-level changes not tied to genetic defects play important roles in causing disease. There is a range of such so-called epigenetic effects that change the way DNA functions without changing a person’s DNA code.

One critical area of epigenetic research is tied to histones. These are the structural proteins that DNA has to wrap around.

“There’s so much DNA in each cell of your body that it could never fit in your cells unless it was tightly and efficiently packed,” said Thomas.

Histone “tails” regularly undergo chemical modifications to either relax the DNA or repack it. When histones are acetylated, portions of DNA are exposed so that the genes can be used. The histone-DNA complexes, known as chromatin, are constantly relaxing and condensing to expose different genes, so there is no single right or wrong configuration. But the balance can shift in ways that can cause or exacerbate disease.

DNA is the guide that cellular machinery uses to construct the countless proteins essential to life. If portions of that guide remain closed when they shouldn’t because histones are not acetylated properly, then genes can be effectively turned off when they shouldn’t be with any number of detrimental effects. Numerous research groups have found that altered acetylation may be a key factor in other conditions, from neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease to drug addiction.

A Good Idea

Thomas had been studying the roles of histone acetylation in Huntington’s disease and began to wonder whether similar mechanisms of gene regulation might also be important in schizophrenia. In both diseases, past research in the Thomas lab had shown that certain genes in sufferers were much less active than in healthy people.

“It occurred to me that we see the same gene alterations, so I thought, ‘Hey, let’s just try it,’” she said.

Working with lead author Bin Tang, a postdoctoral fellow in her lab, and Brian Dean, an Australian colleague at the University of Melbourne, Thomas obtained post-mortem brain samples from schizophrenic and healthy brains held at medical ”Brain Banks” in the United States and Australia. The brains come from either patients who themselves agreed to donate some or all of their bodies for scientific research after death, or from patients whose families agreed to such donations.

A great deal of epigenetic research has focused on chemical alterations to DNA itself. Histone alterations have been much more difficult to study because such research requires that the histones and DNA remain chemically intact. Many researchers feared that these bonds were disrupted in the brain after death. However, Thomas’s group was able to develop a technique for maintaining the histone-DNA interactions.

“While many people thought this was lost, we were able to show that indeed these interactions are preserved in post-mortem brain, allowing us to carry out these studies,” said Thomas.

Compared to healthy brains, the brain samples from subjects with schizophrenia showed lower levels of acetylation in certain histone portions that would block gene expression. Another critical finding was that in younger subjects with schizophrenia, the problem was much more pronounced.

Need for New Treatment Options

Just what causes the acetylation defects among schizophrenic subjects—what keeps certain pages of the DNA guide closed—isn’t clear, but from a medical perspective it doesn’t matter. If researchers can reliably show that acetylation is a cause of the problem, they can look for ways to open the closed guide pages and hopefully cure or improve the condition in patients.

Thomas sees great potential. Based on the more pronounced results in younger brains, she believes that treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitors might well prove helpful in reversing or preventing the progression of the condition, especially in younger patients.

Current drugs for schizophrenia tend to treat only certain symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, and the drugs have major side effects including movement problems, weight gain, and diabetes. If deacetylase inhibitors effectively treat a root cause of the disease and prove sufficiently non-toxic, they might improve additional symptoms and provide a major expansion of treatment options.

Interestingly, some of the cognitive deficits that plague elderly people look quite similar biologically to schizophrenia, and the two conditions share at least some brain abnormalities. So deacetylase inhibitors might also work as a treatment for age-related problems, and might even prove an effective preventive measure for people at high risk of cognitive decline based on family history or other indicators.

This study, “Disease- and age-related changes in histone acetylation at gene promoters in psychiatric disorders,” was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Samples were provided by the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, and Australia’s Victorian Brain Bank Network. For more information on the research, see http://www.nature.com/tp/journal/v1/n12/abs/tp201161a.html

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and vaccine development, as well as for its insights into autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious disease. Headquartered in La Jolla, California, the institute also includes a campus in Jupiter, Florida, where scientists focus on drug discovery and technology development in addition to basic biomedical science. Scripps Research currently employs about 3,000 scientists, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students on its two campuses. The institute's graduate program, which awards Ph.D. degrees in biology and chemistry, is ranked among the top ten such programs in the nation. For more information, see www.scripps.edu.

Original article: http://www.scripps.edu/news/press_releases/20111227thomas.html