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Genetic Linkage

What's In A Placenta?

I didn’t think much about placentas until I had one and part of it dislodged halfway through a 4-mile run. Happily it ended well some months later with a “small for gestational age” tiny baby and a “large for just giving birth” me.

After that I became more sensitive to mentions of this intriguing organ that connects two individuals in a way that no other does. I noticed new hair conditioners touting “placenta” as an ingredient, and learned about people eating them. A geneticist friend kept one from a daughter’s birth, pickled in a jar, in his lab.

A placenta is much more than an "afterbirth," a biological afterthought. It's crucial. Read More 
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Human Stem Cells from Amniotic Fluid

Stem cells from amniotic fluid are like Russian nesting dolls -- they are derived from the cells that would become sperm or eggs in a fetus.
A new source of human stem cells reminds me of Russian nesting dolls: They come from amniotic fluid. When exposed to a seizure drug (valproic acid), they divide to give rise to cells that can specialize as nearly any cell type – they are “pluripotent,” like embryonic stem (ES) cells. But the new stem cells are most like precursor cells in a fetus that become sperm and eggs. And so the cells derived from an organ in a pregnant woman might otherwise, if paired with the opposite type of sex cell, have become her grandchildren! Read More 
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