To address this issue, a consortium of scientists (as part of the Human Cell Atlas project) analyzed nearly 70,000 cells from the placenta and endometrium from women who had their pregnancies between six and 14 weeks.
The placenta is the organ in which nutrients and gases move back and forth between the mother and the developing baby. It was once believed that the mother’s immune system must stop working in the lining of the uterus where the placenta is engrafted, so that the placenta and fetus are not attacked for being “alien” (like a transplant like no other) because of the half-fetus. Genes coming from the father. But this view turned out to be wrong – or very simple to say the least.
We now know, from a variety of experiments including this analysis, that in the womb, the activity of the mother’s immune cells is somewhat reduced, presumably to prevent an adverse reaction against cells from the fetus, but the immune system is not turned off. Instead, the immune cells we met earlier, the natural killer cells, which are well known for killing infected cells or cancer cells, do an entirely different and more constructive job in the womb: helping build the placenta.
Moreover, the scholars Analysis of 70,000 cells He explained that all other types of immune cells are also important in building the placenta. What they’re all doing, though, isn’t clear yet – that’s on the edge of our knowledge.
Muzlifa Hanifa, professor of dermatology and immunology at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Institute of Biological Sciences at Newcastle University in the UK, is one of three women this analysis gave. Almost every day, Hanifa sees the body from two perspectives: as an algorithmic analysis of cells on a screen, and as patients walking through the door. Both the stones and the bow they make.
For now, these two views do not easily overlap. But in time, they will. In the future, Hanifa believes that tools doctors use on a daily basis — such as a stethoscope to listen to a person’s lungs, or simple blood counts — will be replaced by tools that identify the features of the body’s cells. Algorithms will analyze the results, clarify the underlying problem, and predict the best treatment. Other doctors agree – that should be what’s to come in the future of healthcare.
What could this mean for you
Babies are now routinely born via IVF, organ transplants are becoming common, and cancer survival rates in the UK have nearly doubled in recent years – but all these advances are nothing to come.
As I wrote about it in secret body, progress in human biology is accelerating at an unprecedented rate – not only through the Human Cell Atlas project but in many other fields as well. Analysis of our genes offers new understanding of how we are different – the actions of our brain cells provide clues to how our brains work; The new structures found within our cells lead to new ideas for medicine; Proteins and other molecules in our blood change our view of mental health.
Of course, all sciences have an ever-increasing impact on our lives, but nothing affects us so deeply or directly as new discoveries about the human body. On the horizon now, from all this research, there are entirely new ways to identify, examine, and treat health.
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