From Adrienne Lafrance:
One of the weirdest things about placentas, if you have to choose just one, is how very little we know about them. For an organ that is so essential to human life—it is the dark, pancake-shaped blob of blood and tissue that sustains a fetus while it grows, providing nutrients and eliminating waste—the placenta is in many ways still a mystery.
That’s why researchers at the National Institutes of Health created a “placenta-on-a-chip,” a miniature device that uses actual human cells to imitate the way a placenta works inside a pregnant woman’s body. They wrote about their findings in a recent paper published by The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine.