Growth during the intrauterine period is a critical determinant of life-long health. During this period the placenta acts as the baby’s life-support system, transferring nutrients and orchestrating maternal adaptations to the pregnancy. But what stimulates formation of the placenta? Development of the human placenta is precocious, and for many years was considered the pinnacle of evolutionary advance amongst mammals by providing early and intimate access to the maternal circulation. Over the last two decades our understanding of the physiology of early pregnancy has undergone radical revision. It is now appreciated that for the first three months the placenta is nourished by the secretory lining of the uterus rather than maternal blood. Furthermore, evidence from domestic species and recently derived human organoid cultures indicates that a signalling dialogue operates between the placenta and the uterus, increasing the release of growth factors and nutrients by the latter. In this way, the placenta stimulates its own development, ready to support the baby. Evidence for this concept will be presented, and the clinical implications discussed.
Mitochondria are sub-microscopic organelles present in every cell. They convert the breakdown products of food into a form of energy the cell needs to function and survive. An unfortunate by-product is the generation of toxic oxygen free radicals that can damage DNA within each mitochondrion. With a limited capacity for repair, these mutations are passed down the maternal line, where they predispose to disease, can shorten our lifespan, and are threatening our own survival. New biological insights have cast light on the mechanisms involved, but is Homo sapiens facing mutational meltdown?
Cosmic extinction - the far future of our Universe
Constance Tipper Lecture Theatre - Cambridge University Engineering Department
Subscribe to our lectures on talks.cam
From Darwin’s paper on evolution to the development of stem cell research, publications from the Society continue to shape the scientific landscape.
Mathematical Proceedings is one of the few high-quality journals publishing original research papers that cover the whole range of pure and applied mathematics, theoretical physics and statistics.
Biological Reviews covers the entire range of the biological sciences, presenting several review articles per issue. Although scholarly and with extensive bibliographies, the articles are aimed at non-specialist biologists as well as researchers in the field.
The Spirit of Inquiry celebrates the 200th anniversary of the remarkable Cambridge Philosophical Society and brings to life the many remarkable episodes and illustrious figures associated with the Society, including Adam Sedgwick, Mary Somerville, Charles Darwin, and Lawrence Bragg.
Become a Fellow of the Society and enjoy the benefits that membership brings. Membership costs £20 per year.