Developing Mouse Embryo
About this video
Studying mouse development in the womb
Erica Watson from the Universitry of Cambridge studies the process of embryonic development in mice to better understand pregnancy in humans. Watson comments that “The development of a fetus is elegant yet complex" and that most fetuses "undergo a highly orchestrated sequence of events during development to produce a healthy baby".
Watson's research looks at how fetal development can adapt or change within the womb in response to environmental changes, such as the availability of nutrients. Using mouse models with genetic mutations affecting metabolism, Watson and her collegues are looking at how such mutations can go on to affect future generations, even if these future individuals are born without the mutation.
"Since humans and mice use similar genes during development, we can get valuable information from a mouse model about how an embryo and its placenta develop over time. Compared to a human pregnancy that lasts nine months, a mouse fetus develops quickly, taking only three weeks to get from a one-cell embryo to a fully-grown mouse pup. Using a light microscope, we generated this image showing the growth and development of a mouse embryo during the second week of pregnancy. The first embryo is nine days old and has few recognizable features whereas the last embryos is fourteen days old and more closely resembles a mouse pup as birth. Understanding the progression of normal developmental processes will ultimately help us explain the events that cause fetal development to go awry resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth.”
The smallest fetus in the video is the thickness of a penny and the largest one is the size of a blueberry.
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