Infections during pregnancy may interfere with key genes associated with autism and prenatal brain development

21 Mar 2017

If a mother picks up an infection during pregnancy, her immune system will kick into action to clear the infection – but this self-defence mechanism may also have a small influence how her child’s brain develops in the womb, in ways that are similar to how the brain develops in autism spectrum disorders. Now, an international team of researchers has shown why this may be the case, in a study using rodents to model infection during pregnancy.

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Scientists develop human embryos beyond implantation stage for first time

04 May 2016

A new technique that allows embryos to develop in vitro beyond the implantation stage (when the embryo would normally implant into the womb) has been developed by scientists at the University of Cambridge allowing them to analyse for the first time key stages of human embryo development up to 13 days after fertilisation. The technique could open up new avenues of research aimed at helping improve the chances of success of IVF.

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Embryo development: Some cells are more equal than others even at four-cell stage

24 Mar 2016

Genetic ‘signatures’ of early-stage embryos confirm that our development begins to take shape as early as the second day after conception, when we are a mere four cells in size, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge and EMBL-EBI. Although they seem to be identical, the cells of the two day-old embryo are already beginning to display subtle differences.

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Old before your time: Study suggests that ageing begins in the womb

01 Mar 2016

The process of ageing begins even before we are born, according to an international team of researchers led by the University of Cambridge. In a study using rats to model pregnancy and fetal development, the researchers also found that providing mothers with antioxidants during pregnancy meant that their offspring aged more slowly in adulthood.

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The amazing axon adventure

05 Feb 2016

How does the brain make connections, and how does it maintain them? Cambridge neuroscientists and mathematicians are using a variety of techniques to understand how the brain ‘wires up’, and what it might be able to tell us about degeneration in later life.

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