Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Placenta Atlas Tool (PAT)

NICHD have just launched this tool to aid pregnancy research. It promises to be of great value (found here).

Those interested in comparative placentation should go to Explore Images and use the Species filter. This brings up a list that may include your favourite mammal. Click on that and you will get a menu of large icons, although only after a further click can you be sure what they represent (room for improvement here).

The images are fully annotated with original figure legends plus additional context from the source paper.

Open Access appears to be a prerequisite for images to be selected as they link to the Open-i resource of the U. S. National Library of Medicine. 

Monday, 22 October 2018

Pregnant tenrecs run hot and cold

Tailless tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus)
Photo by Markus Fink (Wikimedia Commons CC)
Tenrecs do not maintain a constant body temperature. It waxes and wanes throughout the day. A recent study found this applies even to pregnant tenrecs. Yet after they give birth their body temperature becomes stable and warm.

As mentioned in a recent post, this tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatushas large litters. In the present study up to 19 young. They grow quickly from 12 g at birth to 400 g at 5 weeks (weaning). Perhaps thermoregulation becomes more important when the mother is lactating.

In the closely related species Echinops telfairi, gestation length varies in the range 50-79 days (here). Just speculating, but if body temperature varies could this affect fetal growth rate and thereby the timing of delivery?

Reproduction in tenrecs is quite interesting as we discuss for the ovary here and placenta here.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Congratulations Hiroaki Soma

Professor Hiroaki Soma (at left) recipient of the 2018
IFPA Senior Award
It is a pleasure to record that my good friend and colleague Hiroaki Soma received the Senior Award of the International Federation of Placenta Associations at their recent meeting in Tokyo.

In his address, Professor Soma looked back over 60 years of research including important clinical work on gestational trophoblastic disease in Japan and placental lesions associated with pregnancy at high altitude in Nepal.

In addition, he gave valuable insights about comparative placentation. The range of mammals included chinchilla, giant panda. Japanese serow, sloth, chimpanzee, elephant, manatee and hyrax. As if this were not enough, Professor Soma also presented his research on pregnancy in sharks and rays conducted at the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa.