Researchers are from the National Institute of Health.
Placentas are temporary organs that form during pregnancy, forming a semi-permeable barrier between the mother and baby. It allows substances such as, oxygen, nutrients to cross into the fetus, while keeping harmful materials at bay. Harmful bacteria and Virus are blocked from reaching the fetus. Researchers have to yet fully understand how these temporary organs carry out tasks so efficiently.
Researchers have developed a device that has been designed to mimic at least at micro-level, the structure and the mechanism of a human placenta in an effort to model the transfer of nutrients from the mother to the emerging fetus.
The device consists of a semi-permeable membrane between the two tiny chambers, one is filled with the maternal cells that are derived from a delivered placenta and the other chamber is filled with the fetal cells that are derived from an umbilical cord, explained the National Institute of Health.
Roberto Romero, the chief of the perinatology research at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said,
“The ‘placenta-on-a-chip’ is a unique device that would allow physicians and scientists to learn about all of these placental functions in an efficient way, without resorting to animal experimentation or cell culture models that have not been accurate in the past. We have developed the placenta-on-a-chip in response to the need to understand this important organ.”
Romero added, “We believe that this technology may be used to address questions that are difficult to answer with current placenta model systems and help enable research on pregnancy and its complications.”
Romero further goes on to say that the chip “may allow us to do experiments more efficiently and at a lower cost than animal studies. With further improvements, we hope this technology may lead to better understanding of normal placental processes and placental disorders.”
The findings of the study are published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine.