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Centre for Trophoblast Research


Scientific milestones 2017


The Centre celebrated its 10th anniversary with a stimulating annual Scientific Meeting highlighting some of the most exciting contemporary research into the placenta.


Long-term, hormone-responsive organoid cultures of human endometrium in a chemically defined medium

Margherita Turco made a major breakthrough by generating organoids of human endometrial glands, with the expert help of Lucy Gardner. These organoids are stable in long-term culture, faithfully replicate the glands at the transcriptome level, and their secretome responds to early pregnancy hormones. The organoids can be frozen and biobanked, and are likely to prove a powerful tool for investigating the trophoblast-endometrial dialogue the stimulates early placental development. 



RNA-seq reveals conservation of function among the yolk sacs of human, mouse, and chicken

In another landmark paper, Tereza Cindrova-Davies, Steve Charnock-Jones and colleagues presented RNA-Seq data for the human yolk sac. The data showed that far from being vestigial as commonly believed, the yolk sac expresses transcripts encoding a vast array of transporter proteins and secreted products. The yolk sac appears to be heavily involved in lipid handling and metabolism, and hence may provide an important pathway for the exchange of key nutrients during the first weeks of pregnancy. 



Decidualisation and placentation defects are a major cause of age-related reproductive decline

Laura Woods, Myriam Hemberger and colleagues demonstrated in a mouse model that age-related decline in reproductive performance is due to impaired decidualisation and resultant placentation rather than changes in the fertilised egg. Their findings highlight the importance of the endometrium for reproductive success.