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The William Harvey Research Institute - Barts and The London

Dr Suchita Nadkarni's 'The Placenta Rainbow' featured in National Geographic

Photo by William Harvey Research Institute (WHRI) and British Heart Foundation (BHF) Research Fellow shows differences in mouse placental development that can result from manipulation of the mother’s immune system.

27 February 2018

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Featured in the March 2018 edition of National Geographic, Dr Suchita Nadkarni's image is based on her research into pregnancy complications worldwide and was also one of the winners of the Wellcome Image Awards 2017. 

The placentas are from mice with genetically different immune systems, and have been stained for three proteins. Blue represents the nucleus, where DNA is stored and controlled; blood vessels are stained in red; and trophoblasts, the first cells to form in the developing embryo, are stained in green.

Additional colours are present due to an expression of two or more of these proteins in the same cell. The range of colours indicates the significant effects that differences in a mother’s immune system can have on placental development. These techniques help researchers understand and identify ways to treat complications that arise during human pregnancies.

Further information 

Read article: 'The Placenta May Hold Clues to a Deadly Pregnancy Illness', National Geographic, March 2018