Microfluidics for the study of oxygen gradients in the placenta
Abnormalities in the placenta are associated with disorders that impact outcomes in pregnancy such as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and pre-eclampsia. IUGR affects approximately 10-12% of pregnancies, and in the UK there are approximately 6,000 stillbirths and early neonatal deaths each year. These disorders are thought to manifest in early placental development as the unique cell type of the placenta, the trophoblast develops. Oxygen, a key constituent of cell metabolism is thought to play a key role in trophoblast behaviour and is the focus of this study. A Lab-on-a-chip system using microfluidic technology will be used to understand migration of trophoblast cells when subjected to gradients of oxygen concentration. Further to this, the impact of hypoxia and haemodynamic forces on trophoblast invasion of the uterine wall will be studied.
This project is a collaboration between Cambridge University Engineering Department and the Centre for Trophoblast Research under the supervision of Dr. Michelle Oyen and Prof. Graham Burton respectively.
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