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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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June 5, 2012--------News Archive Return to: News Alerts


A cross section of the hind limb muscle tissue of a mouse, five days after injury.
TOP: Un-injured cells stained Red
BOTTOM: Blue stained damaged cells being reforming from muscle stem cells

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Potential New Approach to Regenerating Skeletal Muscle Tissue

Successful regeneration of skeletal muscle tissue using cells derived from amniotic fluid is outlined in new research

The UCL Institute of Child Health paper shows that damaged muscle tissues can be treated with cells derived from amniotic fluids surrounding the fetus during development, and produce satisfactory regeneration of muscle. The treatment resulted in longer survival in mice affected by a muscle variation of spinal muscular atrophy.

This is the first time that regeneration of diseased muscle tissue has been successful using cells derived from amniotic fluid.

The research appears in the journal Stem Cells, authored by Dr Paolo de Coppi (UCL Institute of Child Health and surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital) and colleagues in Paris and Padova, and represents an impressive development in the growing field of regenerative medicine.

Muscle derived stem cells are presently considered the best source for muscle regeneration. However they cannot be used to treat muscular dystrophies because the stem cells themselves are affected in individuals with these conditions. Due to this challenge, other cell sources have been explored but so far no definitive treatment has been successful.

De Coppi’s team has demonstrated that intravenous transplantation of Amniotic Fluid Stem (AFS) cells enhances muscle strength and improves the survival rate of affected animals. This is the first study to demonstrate the functional and stable integration of AFS cells into skeletal muscle, highlighting their value as a cell source for the treatment of muscular dystrophies.

However, the research is still at a relatively early stage as the work has only been carried out in animal models.

Dr Coppi: “Spinal muscular atrophy is a genetic disease affecting one in 6,000 births. It is currently incurable and in its most severe form children with the condition may not survive long into childhood. Children with a less severe form face the prospect of progressive muscle wasting, loss of mobility and motor function. There is an urgent need for improved treatments.

“We are excited by this potential new approach for regenerating skeletal muscle tissue, but much more research is needed. We now need to perform more in-depth studies with human AFS cells in mouse models to see if it is viable to use cells derived from the amniotic fluid to treat diseases affecting skeletal muscle tissue.”

The study, published in Stem Cells, was funded by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity; Hopital Neker, Paris; and Cariparo and Città della Speranza in Italy.

Original article:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1206/01062012-Regenerating-skeletal-muscle-tissue-with-amniotic-fluid-stem-cells